Why It’s Not Time To Worry About NFL… Yet.
National Football League, you’re up to the COVID-19 nightmare. Your friends, the NBA, NHL, and MLB all had to deal with and now it’s your turn. Football has been an example of consistency though. They did their free agency like normal. The NFL Draft went on normally despite all the distancing measures. The NFL assumed that they could operate business as usual for the start of the season. They guessed wrong. Despite the NFL announcing that training camp is starting next week, the players are speaking out against the league’s COVID-19 planning. On Sunday, the players operated a #WeWantToPlay hashtag campaign explaining their concerns. While some might find this troubling, there are zero reasons to start worrying about the league not starting on time.
Did the NFL overplay its hand a bit? No question about it. They tried to push full steam ahead hoping no one at the NFLPA would say anything. The league also probably didn’t expect COVID-19 to see spikes all over the country in July either. That has led to some uneasiness with the players. They want some answers on a few things, and the league will need to work with them to meet somewhere in a happy place. Maybe both sides aren’t exactly pleased but to a point where they can all feel safe to play.
The players do have a point about ‘ramp up’ or as I’ve called it ‘local isolation.’ When players do not isolate on their own, that is when the positive tests pop up. Look at what happened in the MLS for an example, or some of the colleges. NBA and MLB are both doing their part to isolate outside of the facilities leading to very limited positive tests through the last three weeks. No one has tested positive inside the bubble. Getting off on the right foot is truly the key to all of this with sports. There will be stumbles at the start, but once you figure it out, things seem to be operating at a high level.
The idea that no preseason games will happen is silly and unrealistic. NFL makes money on those games, and they’ll need all the revenue they can get. Could we see a scenario where the teams play one game against an opponent and the other one is a two or three-quarter intrasquad game? Perhaps. Players want preseason gone to limit injuries, but so many guys make a team because of a good preseason. Do the guys who are making the veteran minimum and barely hanging on to a roster spot want preseason gone? I doubt it.
Daily testing is another part that the players want but that is so hard to pull off originally. Once you have your 53-man roster, it is attainable but that’s a ton of resources gobbled up by professional athletes. One compromise would be routine temperature checks. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer said on Pardon My Take last week that he gets his temperature checked four times a practice. That could be a solution for daily testing with a strong testing option during the week.
Other parts are still being worked out but from all the quotes, football is still on. Could snag happen? Yes, absolutely. But I’m still very confident that we’re all watching Chiefs-Texans in six weeks Thursday.