We're living in very uncertain times with the status in the battle versus coronavirus changing almost daily. After a majority of the country practiced safe social distancing and was self-quarantining for a couple months and we saw the curve start to flatten. Only to see it spike up again with the weather getting nicer, people getting cabin fever, young people being half-brains, and more testing happening. The NFL season appears to be going on as planned, for the moment. However, the league already cancelled the Hall of Fame game, which is the annual kick-off to pre-season as well as eliminating the firs two pre-season games.
Teams are still slated to report to camp in a few weeks at the end of July, but the man that's in charge of protecting Tom Brady's blindside, Buccaneers starting Left Tackle Donovan Smith expressed concern regarding player safety amid the pandemic on Instagram yesterday:
As a fellow human being, a father, and a guy who is currently working from home due to avoid risk due to the fragile health of a family member, I completely understand where Donovan Smith is coming from. Nobody at any job should feel like they are risking their life in order to earn their paycheck.
Additionally his beef seems to be that 35% of his paycheck may be withheld while he's putting himself in what can only be classified as a high risk situation for the entertainment of sports fans across the world. It's true, that his employers will be losing millions because of COVID-19 with approximately 25% of fans allowed in stadiums at most (The Ravens and Jaguars have both announced to season ticket holders that they will only allow 25% attendance at home games). Some teams may even be forced to play in completely empty stadiums.
To put that in prospective, if the Bucs follow suit and allow 25% attendance at games, Raymond James Stadium would have their max capacity of 65,890 reduced to 16,472. If the average price of a ticket to a game is $100 (for easy math's sake), the Bucs would be losing $4,491,800/game. If we're talking eight regular season home games and a pre-season game that equates to roughly a -$45 million dollar hit on purely ticket sales for the year. That's not including losses on beer, food, memorabilia, souvenirs and other concessions.
Donovan Smith signed a 3-year extension before last season and is due $14.5M this year. So you're asking him to put his health and safety on the line each week, with a new child on the way and have him make over $5M less than he was expecting?! That's certainly a tough ask and I 100% understand where he's coming from and agree it's pretty crummy that he should take much less while incurring much more risk.
Now, I'm also an enormous Buccaneers fan. And if we don't have a starting Left Tackle, that is a huge deal. Tom Brady needs protection and he would be missed greatly. At this point I'm just hoping football happens, everyone is healthy and safe, and players are compensated what their contracts say.