Report: NFL Bans Jersey Swaps, Postgame Interactions Within 6 Feet Amid COVID-19

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2020

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson pose for photographers after swapping jerseys after an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 41-7. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The NFL reportedly continued to provide coronavirus-related guidance for teams and players in a memo Wednesday night detailing game-day protocols for the 2020 season.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network provided details from the memo, which included a ban on jersey exchanges and other on-field postgame interactions:

In addition, coaches and players won't be required to wear masks on the sideline, but other team personnel on the field for the game must wear protective face coverings, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Pelissero noted the plan outlined in the memo is "a work in progress" and has not been agreed to by the league or players association.

Trading jerseys with a member of the opposing team and the handshake between the two head coaches after the final whistle are two hallmarks of NFL games, and neither will exist in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The jersey swaps have risen in popularity over the years, perhaps picking up on a longstanding trend in the soccer world, but they come at a cost.

In December, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reported each uniform top given away costs $500:

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It's not a groundbreaking amount for players earning an NFL salary, but it's enough to make an impact over the course of a typical four-game preseason, 16-game regular season and playoff run.

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz said he's building a collection for his post-playing days.

"I got a lot of jerseys," Ertz told Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer in December 2018. "When I'm done playing, [I'm going to] have a little man-cave with [framed jerseys from] all the guys I played against, all the guys I really respected."

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who displayed his own collection of jerseys on Instagram in 2017, questioned whether it makes sense to play against an opponent for three hours but then be banned from a postgame talk and trade.

"This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell," Sherman wrote on Twitter in response to Pelissero's report. "Players can go engage in a full-contact game and do it safely. However, it is deemed unsafe for them to exchange jerseys after said game."

Meanwhile, the NFL moved forward with the offseason in a mostly virtual format and has so far remained firm on plans to open training camp July 28 despite a recent surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans are scheduled to open the regular season Sept. 10.

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