After basketball was put into a bubble for the remainder of their season, people all over the world were anxious to see how the NFL would react to the Coronavirus. League commissioner Roger Goodell told owners that preseason would be canceled and training camps would continue as scheduled.
“NFL in 2020 will not look like other years,” said Goodell.
The league gave players the option to opt-out of this season if they felt uncomfortable. Meaning they could take a compromised to pay to stay at home safe with their families.
All players and teams must wear masks while in their respective facilities, unless it interferes with athletic activities. Meetings must be held virtually and coaches must wear their mask properly when they’re on the sidelines. If they don’t, they’re subject to a $14,650 fine.
Stadiums will be filled at less than full capacity if the state allows it, and physical distancing protocols will be mandated whenever teams are traveling. Teams are required to test players and personnel daily, even on game day.
The league claims they were ready for players testing positive, but they had no real plan in place to prevent an outbreak. Sure players will be placed on the “Reserve/COVID-19” list, but games will still take place unless multiple players on a team test positive.
A player placed on this list may have tested positive, or simply became exposed to someone with the virus. The player must self-quarantine for at least five days, and receive two negative COVID tests within that time frame.
For a better understanding, take a look at this chart:
As of Tuesday, October 13, the league had a total of 99 confirmed tests since August 1.
The Titans and Patriots are real examples of the league being unprepared. The Titans had more positive cases than the rest of the league combined. Their outbreak is currently under investigation by the league. Many of the players held unofficial workouts while they were supposed to be quarantined, so this made the outbreak worse.
With so many players testing positive the Titans were unable to play some of their games, so they’ve been rescheduled to later dates in the season. The team was forced to have an early bye week when they were scheduled to play the Steelers.
Most recently the team had to play the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night. To put this in perspective, the NFL hasn’t hosted a Tuesday night game in 70 years.
People around the league believed that this game shouldn’t have been played because other players could become infected. Players around the league also echo this sentiment. They also believe the season shouldn’t have happened.
Patriots cornerback, Jason McCourty, was concerned with the way the league was handling things after his team’s quarterback tested positive. Three days after Cam Newton tested positive, the team was still expected to play their game. He questioned whether the league’s safety protocols make player safety a top priority.
“I think outside of here, –they don’t care,” said McCourty.
Games are going to be moved around and players are going to miss games this season, but unless the NFL comes up with a better plan of action moving forward the season will have to be paused.
NFL executives discussed having a “bubble” type of environment for the playoffs like the NBA and NHL. This idea was quickly vetoed because they felt this wouldn’t be the best scenario for the players. They felt that players would be emotionally distressed as they’re being separated from their families around the holidays.
Executive Troy Vincent believes the mental toll that a bubble will place on players is just as bad as the Coronavirus.
“That is just as much of a health and safety concern as COVID-19 infection,” said Vincent.
Although they’re opposed to it, the NBA didn’t have a single positive Coronavirus test and the bubble was active for over 100 days.
The Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the NFL has faced in years. Each week they try to learn from the previous week and the world will have to keep watching to see what unfolds.