It becomes increasingly more and more unlikely—or perhaps, increasingly more obvious—that there will be no offseason as usual for the NFL this year as people all around the country—all around the world—are coming to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to grow worse on a daily basis in our country.
Recently, Baltimore Ravens owner Dick Cass said that the didn’t think that there would be OTAs this year. Judy Battista for the league’s website quotes one NFL executive as echoing that line of thinking, suggesting that this is the common view within the league, understanding that plans will have to be adjusted.
Ordinarily, OTAs would be set to begin some time in mid-May or thereabouts, consisting of 10 workouts over a three-week period, in addition to one three-day minicamp that is mandatory to attend. The OTA workouts are formally voluntary, but are highly-attended for obvious reasons among those without much job security.
The executive went so far as to ponder how much deeper things might go, suggesting training camp might be the absolute earliest, if even that, that we might see players gather again. “Can we have stadiums with people in them” by September?, he asked.
And if they can’t, what would the NFL do? Would they attempt to hold contests without fans, and how would they go about doing that? Other leagues wanted to continue operations without fans, only broadcasting the games on television, but it quickly became obvious that that would not be sufficient.
Meanwhile, we are left to wonder what shape the offseason might take. Battista writes that some ideas have been floated about how teams might approach this, with suggestions that they would conduct online classes for their players, and team strength and conditioning coaches would have to create workout videos to make sure they are keeping in shape.
At the very least, everybody is able to remain in contact with one another virtually, which is crucial especially for young players and new players. Dozens upon dozens of players have already changed teams this offseason and are faced with the task of learning a new system and new teammates in a new city that, chances are, they haven’t had the opportunity to relocate to yet.
The only thing we can do is continue to wait and see what happens, and count our blessings if we are among the lucky ones who have not yet been affected by the coronavirus. In the meantime, we will try to keep ourselves going here to supply you Steelers fans with content to go over about your favorite team.