By Tony Softli
Hell Yes! Im ready for some NFL football and I speak for millions of NFL fans around the world, but are the 32 NFL franchises ready for football. I’m still very concerned about player safety and COVID-19. The pandemic has changed the way of life for all Americans and those on other continents, and how the NFL will proceed into the 2020 season.
NFL went through a time period allowing players the option to opt out of the season and return next year. There was the NFL virtual Draft that took us inside Commissioner Goodell’s home as well as the Head Coaches and or General Managers homes. The landscape of offseason training and development was not altered but wiped away, there was no Rookie Mini Camps, OTA’s (organized team activities), no Training Camp, the Pre-season was chopped and the Pro Football Hall of Fame game scheduled for August 6th was cancelled.
The jump start, three week training session was used as a get in shape period before moving into helmet & shells and eventual full game mode attire. Will timing and anticipation be off yes, are they in physical game shape, probably not. Will injuries pile up because of lack of off season training, most likely.
The NFL will try its best to run laterally with this pandemic. NFL and NFLPA have worked closely together to establish protocols in testing, league standard medical procedures and a bubble atmosphere at each of the NFL team facilities. Despite the NFL releasing numbers on testing are they truly being transparent with their players and fan base, hopefully they learned their lesson when hiding the effects of concussions on the brain.
Despite the pandemic the first game of the 2020 finds Houston Texans visiting Super Bowl Champs Kansas Chiefs on Thursday Night NFL Season Kick Off. Will new travel protocols effect the travel team and the normal processes?
Per several sources the NFL is allowing only 70 person travel squad which includes players, coaches and other staff personnel. The travel parties are broken down into two tiers;
Tier 1 (“players and essential football personnel whose job function requires direct access to players for more than 10 minutes at a time on a regular basis”)
Tier 2 (“other essential personnel who may need to be in close proximity to players and other Tier 1 individuals and who may need to access restricted areas periodically”).
Other rules include: mandatory overnight stay by visiting teams. All staff must have separate hotel rooms, buses limited to no more than 50% capacity and at least one open seat between persons on the airplane. No public or personnel transportation like Uber, Lyft or family and friends. Locked down in team hotel and meals can be delivered by room service only!
Question: Will the NFL require or pay for testing for those people that will interface with the players and travel party including: bus drivers, hotel staff and workers.
Is there a gap of venerability for COVID-19 to raise its deadly head that was not thought about? Will there be a spike in positive test? Will the NFL complete their season? Like the out come of the score in tonights game, I don’t have the answer. The NFL has done its best to get the wheels back on the track.