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Richard Sherman just drilled Gavin Newsom as though the governor of California was an NFL wide receiver running with his head down. It may not have registered on a seismograph, but it surely resonated with fellow athletes and sports fans wondering if elected officials are playing games.

Richard Sherman calls out a sudden about-face

San Francisco 49ers is accusing California Gov. Gavin Newsom of being motivated by money in his announcement Monday that professional sports in the state could resume next month.

Newsom, a Democrat 16 months into his first term, put stipulations on the plan, but it is nevertheless a 180-degree change of direction. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had previously said sporting events and concerts were unlikely to happen until 2021.

And even Newsom had been highly pessimistic about the return of the NFL or other pro sports as recently as last week, saying, “We’ll see where we’ll be in July.” That set off alarms for the multiple franchises in Los Angeles and across the state. It raised the prospect of teams moving for the 2020 season – and perhaps even permanently.

“Money changes everything,” Sherman wrote on Twitter. “Teams started exploring options outside the state and all of a sudden the timeline changed.”

Sherman also replied to several fans’ responses to his tweet, with the theme being that Newsom’s announcement was made based on financial considerations.

Elected officials in Florida and Arizona have floated proposals to take in teams from several sports that would have trouble playing in their home cities under various state and local restrictions enacted because of the coronavirus. The NBA has discussed resuming its season at Disney World in Florida. MLB was working on a scenario in which teams would be split between Florida and Arizona.

There’s lots at stake if fans can’t attend

The announcement by California Gov. Gavin Newson that drew the wrath of NFL veteran defender Richard Sherman did come with stipulations, the most troubling of which for the teams is the likelihood that fans would not be allowed to attend.

Empty seats translate into a huge loss of revenue. Besides the obvious – the loss of ticket revenue and concessions sales – there are other revenue streams that the clubs would miss out on. Game-day souvenir sales would be lost, as would fees charged at parking lots.

Forbes estimated Monday that the three California-based franchises stand to lose a combined $422 million in revenue if there are no fans in the stands for NFL games this fall – and that average of $140.7 per team is low compared to what other teams stand to lose.

Forbes calculated the hit would be $621 million for the Dallas Cowboys, $315 million for the New England Patriots, and $262 million for the New York Giants. The Las Vegas Raiders would be the team least impacted at $77 million.

Major League Baseball is preparing itself to lose all of the combined $10.7 billion profit recorded by its teams a year ago, as reported by Forbes.

Is safety taking a backseat to money?

Gavin Newsom had been one of the nation’s most pessimistic governors regarding the return of pro sports until making the statement Monday that caught Richard Sherman’s attention. In New York, the state that has recorded the most deaths related to COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that he is encouraging the Yankees and Mets to get started on their season without the presence of fans at games.

“Hockey, basketball, baseball, football — whoever can reopen — we’re a ready, willing, and able partner,” Cuomo said.

Still, safety remains a concern for the players, who are faced with the prospect of a lack of social distancing during games and being quarantined while off the field. In some cases, players are being asked to share the pain through reduced salaries while taking on all the health risks.