Texas Rangers’ situation highlights a problem NFL teams may face


No, we haven’t expanded our coverage beyond football. Yes, we have decided to look for storylines from other sports that potentially apply to football.

Here’s the latest one we noticed, from the world of baseball.

Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reported on Friday night that employees of the Texas Rangers “fear for their health and hope the organization will allow employees to work from home after feeling pressure to come into the office.”

Those fears flowed from the disclosure to Rangers employees that, amid an ongoing Texas outbreak of COVID-19 cases, several members of the organization have tested positive.

“We are terrified for our safety,” an unnamed employee told Passan. “Terrified to share COVID-19, unknowingly, with an older employee, a pregnant co-worker or anyone else who may have some sort of underlying condition.”

Some employees contend they have been urged to show up for work at the team’s new stadium, and multiple employees told Passan that working from home isn’t an option, with some exceptions being made.

During a videoconference on Friday, a doctor affiliated with the team “suggested employees were likelier to be infected by the coronavirus at home than at work.”

The connection to the NFL is obvious. As inevitable positive tests happen for players and other team employees, will employees other than players and coaches and trainers and those who directly work with players be given the ability to work from home? Will those who choose to accept an invitation to do so be comfortable doing it, if colleagues hoping to curry favor with management decide to be present in the workplace?

All teams should have a threshold number of positive cases before initiating a protocol that would require all employees whose presence isn’t critical to getting the team ready to play to work from home, with no ability to choose to show up. It needs to be a mandate from the league office, non-negotiable and non-discretionary.

As to players or anyone working directly with players, there must be an ever-present option to opt out, basically to tap out. Although most will decide at the outset of training camp to show up and participate, their position may change depending on positive tests and other developments. Players, coaches, and others critical to preparing for games need to have the ability to walk away, without penalty.