While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues, the NFL is confident enough to have started preseason camps on time. However, there will be no preseason games played in 2020. NFL teams will go straight to regular-season games from preseason camps if it is safe to do so.
There is a lot of uncertainty about starting the season on time. Many have a fear of playing in states where coronavirus is at high risk, like Florida and California. Already the MLB is in danger of shutting down after 17 members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for coronavirus. Teams are afraid to even travel to Miami, including the Washington Nationals who refused to travel to Miami for their three games with the Marlins in Miami. Marlins games have been postponed until Monday, though it may be extended longer.
Several NFL players have been very vocal regarding the NFL’s lack of safety protocols heading into the season. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees tweeted the other day “We need Football! We need sports! We need hope! The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done @NFL”.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also tweeted a week before preseason camps opened of his concern over starting football with no protocols in place:
I am concerned.
My wife is pregnant.@NFL Training camp is about to start..
And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety. 🤷🏾
We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones. #WeWantToPlay
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 19, 2020
The NFL is giving players the option to opt-out of this season due to the ongoing pandemic. Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first NFL player to opt-out of this season. Duvernay-Tardif has a medical degree and has been working at a long-term care facility in Montreal and he wants to protect the safety of other players by sitting out for this season, NBC News reports. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our own communities simply to play the sport that I love” said Duvernay-Tardif on Instagram. “If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients”.
Other leagues like the NWSL, MLS and NBA have restarted their league in “the bubble”. The bubble is a disclosed location where players are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while participating in games and practices. Once a team is eliminated from their tournament, they will be asked to leave the bubble. No one in the bubble must have outside interactions with anyone, if so there are major consequences.
The NFL has not decided to make a bubble, instead, they will make a “virtual bubble”. According to ESPN, the NFL has considered a bubble, but instead, they will impose strict social distancing guidelines in team facilities and stadiums to its players and coaches. To construct a bubble for the NFL will be a lot, as they will have to find housing for each team’s hundreds of players and staff members for over five months, ESPN reports.
The NWSL and the MLS have found success using the bubble. The NFL will hope that their virtual bubble will work and hope to not encounter a breakout like with the Miami Marlins.
Another idea that is in the works, but not confirmed yet is quarantining quarterbacks for the season. A quarterback is not only the most important player on the team, but there are always a limited number of quarterbacks for each team. If in the event a quarterback does contract the virus, it can strongly affect a team’s performance going forward. The way this idea would work is the quarterback would promise to stay in shape and train at a separate location, while keeping up with team meetings via video chat, Sports Illustrated reports.
The NFL and the NFLPA have already agreed to conduct daily COVID-19 testing on players and coaches for the first two weeks of preseason camps. The NFL has also announced a protocol if a player on a team contracts the virus. If a player tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-quarantine for 10 days and must test negative at least twice afterward to be cleared to play again, CBS Sports reports.
The NFL ensures the safety of their players and coaches are their number one priority. The NFLPA made a statement early last week about their testing protocols:
Our statement on Covid-19 testing procedures: pic.twitter.com/6mYF3aK0jm
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 20, 2020
The regular season is set to start on September 10 in empty stadiums as of right now. Many things can still change from now until the season starts with coronavirus cases continuing to rise in certain states across the United States.