The start of the NFL season is in limbo as coronavirus cases have been increasing in several states across the U.S. The NFL announced that teams will be able to report to training camps in late July if it is safe to do so. Many players and coaches have expressed their concerns over starting the NFL season too soon, or even having one at all during the pandemic.
New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins spoke about the return of football and the doubts that he has about starting the NFL back up in an interview with CNN on Thursday. “Football is a nonessential business and so we don’t need to do it. So the risk, you know, has to be really eliminated”. He also spoke about how the NFL involves “too many people’ and it will be hard for the NFL to try to place social distancing protocols, ESPN reports.
There already has been a few NFL players who tested positive for COVID-19, including starting running back Ezekiel Elliot. After the news of Elliot’s test results was leaked to the press, he took to twitch to talk about his recovery and the future of the NFL season during the coronavirus pandemic.
Elliot says he is unable to work out yet, but he is “feeling good”, and that the only symptoms he experienced was shortness of breath and a sore throat, Fox News reports. He also opens up about his opinion of starting the season too soon and how it can affect the players and their families.
“I just don’t know how they can keep the players healthy. You’ve got to put the players first” Elliot says in his interview on Twitch. He also adds “We have to find a way to make sure the players and their families, and the coaches also their families, aren’t put at risk”.
Many questions remain about how the NFL will plan to conduct games that are both safe for the players and the coaches. Wearing masks on the sideline is one, however, because the NFL involves so many players and coaches, it will be hard to maintain social distancing on the sidelines.
Head coach for the Baltimore Ravens John Harbaugh criticizes the NFL’s reopening plan in an interview with WJZ-FM radio. “But this is a communication sport, so if we want to get out there and actually have any idea about what we’re doing on the field, we’ve got to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice and I’m pretty sure the huddle’s not going to be six feet apart” Harbaugh says.
The NFL will also have to think about what will happen if a player contracts COVID-19. What will the protocol be if it comes to that? Keeping healthy and sick players quarantined would be an option, however, it would be hard to track who was in contact with a player with the virus, and who those players were in contact with.
Executive director Don Heider of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University spoke with ESPN about the risk of starting football too soon and if the risk is worth infecting several families of NFL players and coaches. “Is the value that resuming football brings worth the risk? How many lives would you be willing to give up having football games on Sunday?” Heider says.
The league already canceled its Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers that was scheduled to happen o on Aug. 6 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
The Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers preseason opener at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6 is being canceled and the Hall of Fame's enshrinement ceremony on Aug. 8 is being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, league sources told ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 25, 2020
With coronavirus cases rising in many states and the U.S hitting record high of cases countrywide, the future of the NFL is in serious doubt. It will be hard for the NFL to determine a good time to start if there is going to be a second wave of the virus coming this Fall. Even when preseason camps begin to open in late July, many questions remain to be answered as to how the NFL can safely bring football back this upcoming Fall.