The opt-out window closed on Thursday. A day earlier, Packers CEO Mark Murphy — a member of the league’s negotiating team that worked out the deal allowing for opt outs — said that the league wanted players to have the right to not play this year.
“[O]ur view was, I mean, we absolutely wanted it,” Murphy said, via Sports Business Daily. “The players association wanted it, and we wanted it. If someone’s not comfortable with playing this season they should be able to opt out.”
They definitely should be able to opt out. And they should be able to opt out after August 6.
They should be able to opt out if, for example, they’re not comfortable once 11-on-11 football practice in pads begins. They should be able to opt out if, for example, they’re not comfortable once games start. They should be able to opt out if certain objective figures are reached regarding the prevalence of the virus in the country and/or the community where a given team plays.
Murphy said there were “maybe a little more [opt outs] than I would have thought.” There undoubtedly would be more if there was more time to decide whether to opt out.
There also may have been more if there had been more transparency regarding some of the business realities of the opt-out procedure. After posting on Thursday details regarding the potential wisdom of players with fully-guaranteed salaries for 2020 opting out, we caught wind of what potentially can be described as an effort by some within the league to keep that information from being widely known before the opt-out window closed.
Those tactics could be justified by the notion that the opt-out right wasn’t crafted to allow players to take a year off for business reasons; however, business reasons surely would be (for at least some players) part of the broader stew of factors that would lead to a final decision.
None of it matters at this point, because the window has closed. It will be interesting to see whether players express genuine discomfort moving forward, at a time when their failure to opt out has left them opted in. Remember this: Depending on a player’s contract (including a potential signing bonus repayment obligation), retirement — followed by potential unretirement — remains an option.