Back in July when the NFL was creating protocols in order to have the 2020 season be played in a safe environment amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league banned all jersey swaps between players.
The gesture between competitors following a game had become a common and well-loved part of the football experience, and the outlawing of the sharing of equipment created a strong negative reaction from plenty of players.
Now, as the season approaches, the NFL is changing course... kind of.
The league will now permit players to swap jerseys with other players during the campaign, but it will happen in a very 2020 way. In a memo obtained by the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, rules for exchanges amid the coronavirus were laid out. The biggest rule to note is that none of the swaps will take place in person.
Instead of players meeting up following the contest, all jersey swaps must now be coordinated ahead of time. Communication between players must come prior to the matchup and the equipment managers from both sides must be involved.
More than ever before, the equipment manager will be an essential part of the team. Jerseys that are being given away to another player must be washed and then mailed, and managers must also make sure to remove the Kinexon contact tracing device from the uniform and add it to the next jersey to be worn.
Any attempt by players to exchange jerseys in person will lead to team discipline.
The NFL is working hard to try and make football as normal as it can be in 2020, and allowing jersey swaps is part of that process. But like everything else, adaptations have to happen. That is playing during a pandemic in a nutshell.