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In the event sports return, we are going to see all sorts of zany regulations as the leagues try their damnedest to thread a needle between staging the games and keeping their participants as safe as possible. With the NFL, fans are at minimum unlikely to be permitted in the first eight rows, to keep distance between them and the players.
Today, NFL Media reporter Tom Pelissero relayed the news that jersey swaps are not going to happen this season, and the idea was summarily lampooned by 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman:
This is a perfect example of NFL thinking in a nutshell. 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. ??? https://t.co/fWefsUSVDc
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 9, 2020
Sherman isn’t wrong here. Football will inherently feature players lined up in close proximity to each other and they’re going to be constantly touching each others’ jerseys in the fundamental acts of blocking and tackling. There’s zero way to operate the sport without that being the case.
Now, it’s possible some type of helmet innovation comes out that has mask functionality that prevents the players from breathing on each other — the NFL has reportedly been testing the idea of these — but Sherman still has a point with the silliness of this jersey exchange rule.