NFL can't enforce coronavirus bubble per collectively bargained agreement, Vikings' GM, coach say

The Vikings training facility is located next to a hotel, coach said

As major sports continue to make a comeback in the midst of a pandemic, one thing seems to hold true: a bubble is the most practical way to ensure player safety.

MLB has been plagued with several COVID-19 outbreaks, most recently within the St. Louis Cardinals organization, since the abbreviated season began last month. By contrast, the NBA announced only a handful of cases in its early weeks in Orlando while the NHL confirmed Monday that there were zero positive cases since teams arrived in Canada for the postseason last week.

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The difference comes down to the NHL and NBA opting to keep players in a bubble to limit exposure to coronavirus while MLB chooses to instead monitor player health.

The example being set has raised the question of whether the NFL should implement a bubble with the season only a few weeks away, but according to Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, that isn’t even an option.

“We couldn’t require the players to stay in a hotel room, so that’s a collectively bargained agreement,” Spielman told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday.

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Head coach Mike Zimmer told the paper that logistically the Vikings could place their players in quarantine, having a hotel right next to the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, Minn.

“With our facilities here, we could keep our guys in a bubble,’’ he said. “We’ve got so much space and the hotel right next to us, but unfortunately those aren’t the rules.’’

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Not surprisingly, the deal suggests players were opposed to a bubble considering the length of the season. MLB players had voiced their opinion against playing in a bubble when the Player’s Association and the league were negotiating the 60-game season.The NBA and the NHL, however, were at the back end of their seasons when the pandemic struck.