As the COVID-19 virus pandemic continues to make its way around the U.S., the sports world is ready to get back to work. Within the next coupe of weeks, the NBA is set to finish its season with a “tournament” while Major League Baseball is gearing up for opening day on July 23, 2020. There are also rumblings about the NFL as the start of the NFL season nears.
According to news sources, as many as 72 NFL players have recently tested positive for Coronavirus. This news comes as rookies are preparing to report for preseason workouts on July 18. As should be expected, this kind of news is raising concerns among players, coaches, football fans, and state governments in the states that currently have NFL Franchises.Read More »
Where Things Stand Now
At this point, the NFL seems intent on moving forward with the NFL season under normal scheduling. Of course, things are always subject to chance on short notice in a world where Coronavirus is on the collective minds of all U.S. citizens, many of which stand proudly as football fans.
With the NCAA’s college football season already in disarray if not jeopardy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA want to avoid a similar fate. Currently, negotiations are underway between NFL teams owners and the player’s union. They aren’t really discussion financial matters as much as they are focusing on health, family, and safety issues related to the COVID-19 virus.
The first thing that needs addressing is getting safety and health protocols in place, the sooner the better. Rookies are schedule to report in a coupe of days and nothing concrete has really been agreed upon. What players do know is once they play one game, their salaries are guaranteed for the years. This was a big issue in the recently completed Collective bargaining agreement. That leaves everything else up in the air.
In just the last couple of days, Houston Texans star defensive lineman J.J. Watt took to Twitter to vent his frustrations about where the league currently stands. Seemingly, the league has yet to resolve a whole lot of key issues. According to Watt’s Twitter feed, here is what he believes the players know and don’t know at this time:
- The players want to play football
- Player and family safety is their primary concern
- Players have not received any information about the league’s “Infections Disease Emergency Response” plan
- Discussions about preseason games have not been disclosed
- Testing protocols have not been presented to the NFLPA
- Players do not know how a positive COVID-19 test will affect their contracts and playing status
- No structure or protocols have been laid out related to training camps and how they will be operated
Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done, and the clock is ticking.
More News on the NFL Front Regarding Coronavirus
With seven weeks remaining to the start of the NFL season (Sept. 10), it’s not clear to league officials or players if this is going to be a “normal season.” There were high hopes things might be somewhat normal after the first pandemic wave started subsiding. However, the second wave, while not as deadly, is throwing a real monkey wrench into the prospects of normacy throughout the league.
Some of the information coming out of negotiations between owners and players involves lockerroom protocols, special equipment that could be required to protect players and coaches, traveling protocols, testing requirements, and protocols for placing players on the IR should they test positive. In relationto the latter issue, there have been discussions about develop a 21 day IR program.
Other problems being addressed by the NFL include team and individual celebrations, as well as the inclusion of sideline personnel (officials, chain/ball crews, medical staff). Aside from a fist pump by a scoring player, enzone and sideline celebrations are sure to be prohibited. Assuming there will be few to no fans in the stands for most if not all of the season, fans interactions shouldn’t be an issue.
In regards to sideline personnel, teams will have up until three days prior to the start of any form of preseason to provide the NFL with the names of people who will be allowed on the sidelines during games. Said individuals will be restricted to a designated area and will be required to wear face coverings at all times.
To everyone’s credit, there is clearly evidence all parties, including fans, are doing what’s necessary to pull off the impossible and see the 2020 NFL season through to the end. There is nothing in football history or even sports to measure by which to measure success. With that said, success will likely be measured by the NFL crowning another Super Bowl Champion at the end of the season with a minimum of distractions and health issues among players, referees, family members, and coaches
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