The coronavirus, if you haven’t noticed or if you listen to charlatans in the media for which there hopefully will be a special place in hell, continues to spread through the American population, with plenty of states experiencing summertime surges in cases. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking loudly toward the scheduled opening of NFL training camps.
Ken Belson of the New York Times has taken a close look at the various concerns and dynamics as it relates to coexisting with a virus that can and will enter NFL facilities and stadiums, that can and will spread among players and coaches, and that can and will eventually make a player or a coach extremely ill, or worse. As noted by Belson, the league and the NFL Players Association have not yet figured out how 32 teams with up to 90 players on each roster will be able to show up for preseason practices.
Yes, the league sent a memo on June 7 to all teams with protocols for access to restricted areas, like locker rooms, practice fields, and sidelines on game day. But it has been widely underreported or flat-out ignored that the NFLPA quickly told its constituents that the union had agreed to none of those rules; Belson reports that, on Monday, the union told agents that there are still no guidelines for testing protocols or rules for player distancing and equipment. Throw in the fact that Ravens coach John Harbaugh publicly has said that it will be “humanly impossible” to comply with the protocols, and the league currently has a mess.
Complicating matters are the ongoing surges in places like Arizona, Florida, and Texas. (And, yes, if you’re listening to the corona charlatans, you may be surprised to read that.) The league wants to open all camps at the same time, and the league has mandated that all teams must remain in their own facilities. What if, by late July, states like Arizona, Florida, and/or Texas are in a full lockdown?
Some believe that anyone who asks these questions is rooting against football season happening. To the contrary, we want to be sure that the right questions are asked and the right answers are being identified — especially since every answer seems to lead to five more questions.
There’s no question about this: Late July is looming. And if the NFL has a solid handle on what’s going to happen when it’s time to go to training camp, the NFL is doing a great job of keeping media and fans from concluding that it does.