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“OL Masterminds Summit” features few masks, no distancing

While the NFL and NFLPA agree on game-day protocols in response to COVID-19, Mike Florio doubts they will be able to keep players completely safe.

As the NFL and the NFL Players Association haggle over every detail of football in a pandemic, one key question will be whether players can and will do everything they need to do -- and not do everything they shouldn’t do -- from August through December (or, in the case of 12 playoffs teams, into and possibly through January). There’s plenty of reason to think that this will be a bigger challenge than previously believed.

Case in point: The OL Masterminds Summit in Dallas. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has posted videos from the event. This one shows Saints tackle Terron Armstead (with no mask) speaking to a group of offensive lineman who are definitely not standing more than six feet apart. Several aren’t wearing masks, or their masks are pulled down. (That’s the one major design flaw of the mask. For it to properly work. It must actually, you know, cover the mouth and the nose.)

If that one isn’t sufficiently alarming, here’s a video from a hot-wing eating contest at the OL Mastermind Summit, won by Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen. There are well over a dozen large men in the shot, bodies pressed together as two of them furiously consume chicken wings. One man in the background is wearing a mask.

These are the men who inherently have enhanced risk of a serious outcome, given their BMI. And they’re engaging in this behavior in Dallas, one of the current hotbeds of COVID-19.

At a time when football season seems to be hanging in the balance, this group of offensive linemen has just jumped onto the side of the scale that lands on “try again next year.” Thus, as the NFL and NFLPA prepare to continue their negotiations on Monday regarding the various things that need to be done before the season can proceed, the participants should consider asking themselves an important question: Why bother?