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Amari Cooper on the rules against playing with COVID: Michael Jordan played with the flu

Mike Florio and Peter king explain what the Cowboys must do to take their game to the next level on a more consistent basis, including why Dallas’ offense needs to be more disciplined.

Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper missed a pair of key games after testing positive for COVID. He returned on Thursday night in the Dallas win over the Saints.

After the game, Cooper made it clear that he believes he could have played with COVID.

“It was tough,” Cooper told reporters. "[Michael] Jordan played with the flu. That’s how I looked at it. It was a restriction of not being able to play with what I had. It was tough, knowing that I could physically gone out there and played, but the restrictions didn’t allow me to do so.”

The restrictions didn’t allow him to do so because the current protocols, developed jointly by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, require an unvaccinated player who tests positive to exit the facility for at least 10 days. But Cooper raises a point that we’ve recently made, both on PFT Live and #PFTPM. At what point will the NFL decide to not prevent asymptomatic players who test positive from practicing and playing?

The virus transmits much more easily indoors. The NFL has believed from the outset of the pandemic that it’s extremely difficult if not impossible for a player to transfer enough virus to another player in an open-air setting, or in a dome with state-of-the-art ventilation driven by the possibility of an aerosolized terrorist attack.

At what point will the NFL allow players who test positive but who have no symptoms to play? At what point will the NFL allows players who test positive and who have symptoms to play?

Every year, players play with a cold. They play with the flu. They do it because the rules don’t prohibit it. When, then, will the NFL’s COVID protocols evolve to a similar point?

As one source with knowledge of the league’s overall handling of the pandemic explained it to PFT recently, the key becomes not vaccines but therapeutics. When a pill can be taken to treat and/or cure the virus once it’s inside the human body, the stakes of getting infected will plummet. That’s when the NFL will become less cautious about allowing infected personnel in the building, on the practice field, or in the stadium.