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NFL, players' union agree to eliminate preseason games for 2020, sources say

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference prior to Super Bowl LIV at the Hilton Miami Downtown on January 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Credit: Getty Images/Cliff Hawkins

The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed there will be no preseason games this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The players had requested earlier this summer that there be no preseason games out of concern for the coronavirus situation, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the union and league agreed on a plan that would eliminate the games. The NFL initially had agreed to hold two preseason games, then floated the idea of one, but in the end signed off on a plan to do away with the exhibitions altogether. The two sides had discussed the possibility of no preseason games on Monday, although other economic considerations played a part in the delay on a final agreement.

The regular season is scheduled to begin on Sept. 10, when the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs host the Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.

The two sides also agreed on an opt-out for players who don’t want to play this season because of coronavirus concerns. The league has agreed to pay a stipend to those players and also offer medical benefits, according to a source.

Training camps are opening this week for rookies and quarterbacks, and all players are scheduled to report by next Tuesday. As part of an agreement reached on Monday, players will be given COVID-19 tests every day for the first two weeks of training camp. If the positivity rate falls below 5 percent after that period, players will receive tests every other day. The two sides also agreed on protocols in the event players or coaches test positive for the virus.

No fans will be allowed at training camps, and many teams, including the Jets and Giants, will not allow fans to attend regular season games unless conditions associated with the pandemic improve in the coming weeks and months.

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