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Notes: NFL Combine lifts ‘bubble’ restrictions after potential boycott

At least one COVID-19 related restriction has been changed.

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NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combine Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL Combine is lifting bubble restrictions shortly after the news that player agents were organizing a boycott.

A year after its full cancellation, the NFL combine is returning this year but the National Invitational Camp planned to implement several COVID-19 protocols, including a “bubble.” Per a memo acquired by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the players would have been restricted to “secure Combine venues” during their entire time in Indianapolis and players could only invite one medical support person, like a trainer, to help them during the combine. Players who violated the policy would be disqualified and sent home.

Pelissero reported Sunday that agents who represent more than 150 prospects were organizing a boycott of “all testing, on-field workouts and interviews” at the combine if the restrictions weren’t lifted.

The NFL Players Association sent a letter to agents reinforcing their opposition to the combine and supporting players who decide not to attend.

“The combination of the NFL’s proposed ‘bubble’ and fact that we still have an antiquated system of every team doctor examining players and having them perform yet again needs serious modification or elimination. While we do not represent these players, we have advocated for their rights to fair treatment,” the letter reads, in part.

However, the NIC informed players Monday evening they changed their minds on at least one combine policy — players will now be allowed outside restricted areas.

“We encourage all players to remain within the secure Combine areas at all times for your safety. However, if you would like to leave the secure areas during free time in your schedule, you are now permitted to do so at your risk,” the message obtained by Pelissero states. “If you prefer to remain in the secure areas and have your approved medical support personnel (physical therapist, massage therapist, or approved athletic trainer) enter the secure area to provide medical treatments, please follow the previously communicated procedure.”

Whether some of the other policies that have elicited concern, like a shortened schedule, are repealed in the weeks leading up to the combine remains to be seen.

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