Amid talk of player boycotts, NFL scouts gather to amend COVID-19 policies and procedures for the event

Monday Night’s NFL Scout Group sent a note to all potential NFL players attending next month’s annual pre-event in Indianapolis, reviewing its policies and procedures regarding COVID-19 protocols.

The memo obtained by Adam Scheffer from ESPNfocuses on wearing masks for both players and medical personnel, as well as identifying safe areas for the event, and key points of contention between player agents.

“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we continue to develop our joint policies and procedures in consultation with medical experts,” the memo said. “While masks continue to be needed for air travel and during group medical examinations (players and medical personnel), mask-wearing at other times while on site is recommended, but not required.

“We encourage all players to remain within the safe assembly areas at all times for your safety. However, if you wish to leave the safe areas during free time in your schedule, you are now permitted to do so at your own risk.”

The memo fell hours after the prospect of a players boycott broke the news on Monday morning. Sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that a group of player agents have been threatening to organize a boycott of some key elements of the gathering if their concerns about the COVID-19 “bubble” continue to be ignored.

But not all customers were in that group.

“I understand their grievances, they want to take their coaches with them to the collection, and they may want to reach out to their agent. They may have family members. And they may have a full support group for both their physical and emotional health — and NFL regulations seem overly restrictive,” he said. Agent Lee Steinberg on Monday. “Having said that, we’re going to send our players because this is the Super Bowl for scouting events. And you have players who have worked their whole lives preparing for the NFL Draft.”

The NFL sent a memo last week to draft prospects and their clients outlining collection rules, including a bubble that would prevent potential clients from interacting with their personal trainers, doctors, nutritionists and agents while they are in Indianapolis. Monday night’s memo included adjustments to accommodate players — and their coaching teams — in the event.

“If you prefer to remain in safe areas and have certified medical support personnel (physiotherapist, massage therapist, or certified sports coach) enter the safe area to provide medical treatment, please follow the previously reported procedure and complete the form at Teamworks” (if not) You haven’t already done so).

This appears to have been a direct result of backtracking from the pool of agents representing more than 150 of the 324 invited prospects. They said they would keep their players away from joint training and matches if the league did not adopt the original plans. These players, if the boycott is implemented, will only participate in medical assessments in the pool. They were doing their joint workouts on their solo professional days instead of in Indianapolis.

Late Sunday night, agents and the NFL discussed the concerns in an effort to avoid announcing a boycott, which the agents involved had initially planned for Monday, sources close to the situation told Graziano.

The National Football League (NFLPA) on Sunday issued a memo to player agents to support the idea of ​​players skipping collecting, an event it described as “outdated” and which the NFL has long opposed.

Expat prospects agents provide these players, at their own expense, with coaches, nutritionists and other professionals as part of their preparation for the grueling week-long event in which they are weighed, interviewed and tested based on various skills. Agents objected to recent changes that moved some training to prime time for TV purposes and squeezed the amount of time players have to get everything done while in Indy.

In particular, agents opposed the idea of ​​a bubble that would prevent players from interacting with some key people tasked with making sure they are at their best for the week of the collection. A source close to the situation said the feeding aspect was among the most annoying, because many potential clients are trying to reach certain weights in time to collect, and that effort can be upset by a last-minute decision by the league. The only provider of food for prospects at this event.

Discussions continued throughout Monday in an effort to find a compromise, which ultimately led to the group’s decision and eventual release of the statement.

The gathering was canceled last year due to the coronavirus, as were in-person visits, leading teams to rely on professional athlete days to make their draft assessments. This year’s gathering is scheduled to start from March 1-7.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.