Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on just about every facet of our daily existence—even down to our bowel movements, given the nature in which toilet paper has suddenly become a hot commodity.
No matter how big or small, everybody and everything has felt the impact of the coronavirus, with the NFL and its community being no different. With Pro Days and pre-draft visits being cancelled or altered, team facilities being shuttered and travel being banned, business as usual is anything but the usual for the time being.
But the steps the league has taken—which has, by the way, had the good fortune of being in its offseason when the outbreak occurred—have proven to be significant and effective. To the best of my knowledge, there is nobody within the NFL community who has reported as having tested positive for the coronavirus. That includes the Pittsburgh Steelers and their staff, as Kevin Colbert recently affirmed.
“As we speak, to our knowledge, we have been fortunate in that regard. We don’t have anybody that has been affected and hopefully the players can say that about their families”, Colbert told the team’s website. “It’s a once in a lifetime, hopefully, experience that none of us have seen before. We’re all taking the proper precautions. Once we understood the depths of this issue, we all took the proper precautions and will continue to take them until it’s a safe environment for everybody to proceed in”.
The dramatic steps the league has taken, in part forced upon them by the state and federal governments, have taken their toll on how business is run, of course. The inability to bring in college prospects for interviews, and the lack of Pro Days, greatly drains teams of their off-field knowledge about the players they will be drafting in a few weeks. The lack of face-to-face meetings with their staff affects the quality of draft preparation as well. But the safety of their staff comes first and foremost.
“We just want to encourage our fans to please take care of yourselves, take care of your families, take nothing for granted”, Colbert said. “Enjoy the moment the best you can. Hopefully we can keep some football entertainment in your world. But most importantly, keep your family and your friends healthy”.
Time will tell as to whether or not the NFL can return to business as usual in time for the start of the regular season. If not, they will have to cross that bridge when they come to it in deciding how it will shape their plans. They could delay the season, or shorten it, for example. For now, however, they are proceeding as though they will have a full 16-game schedule, and that it will take place on time.