While pretty much every team has in some capacity informally taken these same or similar steps, the NFL is today making it official that all team facilities as of 6PM will be shut down to all but essential personnel, such as those who administer medical treatment, provide security, or maintain the technology that enables employees to work remotely.
The memo that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent to clubs sent this evening. pic.twitter.com/66RuwELW08
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 25, 2020
The league had previously announced that team facilities are closed to all player personnel except for those who are undergoing treatments of some kind or another, which would, for example, include the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who is continuing to rehab from elbow surgery.
As should go without saying, these steps are being taken in response to the continuing pandemic outbreak of the COVID-19 virus that is quickly seeing the number of total official cases in the United States approach that of China, where it is believed to have originated.
For a bit of sobering perspective, as of this writing, the Worldometer website lists the total cases in the United States at just under 55,000, the third-most in the world behind China and Italy, the two countries that were hardest-hit, but the US is rapidly overtaking them, it seems, at least in total number of cases. Over 30,000 new cases have been confirmed in just the past three days in the United States. By the time this publishes, we are likely to pass Italy for the most active cases, as we are trailing by just a couple hundred as I write this.
While the league’s decision to issue this memo is driven largely by the very grave nature of the situation we are facing, it was also done with a more pragmatic intention in mind: “to ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time”. These guidelines already went through the Competition Committee.
The memo that I cite issued by Roger Goodell to all 32 teams yesterday also makes note that these guidelines will be reassessed in two weeks’ time, at which point they will weigh either at least partially reopening the facilities or extending the widespread closure.
I think it’s fair to say that the likelihood things will be safe to reopen in just two weeks’ time is incredibly low. Two weeks from now, we will be dealing with over 100,000 active cases in the United States. Potentially even hundreds of thousands. We are not even beginning to approach a return to normalcy. Follow Roethlisberger’s advice and stay indoors when at all possible. Unless you have to check out his elbow.