Patriots Will Need To Get Creative To Satisfy This New NFL Restriction


June 8, 2020

Fitting 90 fully grown NFL players into a single locker room — a difficult enough proposition under ideal circumstances — will be a lot harder this season.

According to an NFL-NFLPA memo sent to all 32 teams Monday, lockers must be positioned at least 6 feet apart when team facilities reopen following the NFL’s COVID-19 shutdown.

This is just one of many new restrictions implemented to prevent a coronavirus spike — others include players wearing masks whenever possible while inside the facility, requiring the vigorous cleaning of all gear and equipment after each use and limiting strength and conditioning workouts to 15 players at a time — but will be among the most complicated for teams to satisfy, especially before rosters are trimmed from 90 players to 53.

The New England Patriots, for example, have most of their rookies share lockers during training camp and the preseason. That won’t be allowed this year. Even during the regular season, nearly every Patriots stall is filled by either a member of the 53-man roster, a practice squad player or a player on injured reserve.

To maintain the required 6-foot distance between lockers, the Patriots might need to create a second auxiliary locker room to house a portion of their roster. Road games will pose an even greater spacial challenge, as the visiting locker rooms in most stadiums are tiny compared to their home-team counterparts.

In addition to the aforementioned guidelines, teams also will be mandated to conduct meetings virtually or outdoors whenever possible.

“In-person meetings that do not permit physical distancing are prohibited,” the memo read. “Meetings with more than twenty (20) individuals must be conducted virtually, unless physical distancing practices can be adhered to.”

Teams are unlikely to begin practicing before training camp begins in July, but certain players could be allowed to visit team facilities beginning in mid-June, according to a report Monday from NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.

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Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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