Virtually the entirety of the United States at this point in one way or another has issued some variety of ‘stay-at-home’ order in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, restricting travel to only essential business, such as going to work, buying food or medicine, receiving medical attention, or caring for relatives.
While the enforcement of these guidelines varies widely by region, the federal government itself has issued statements discouraging gatherings of 10 or more people. This recently came under scrutiny within the NFL after it was rumored that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw a birthday gathering attended by upwards of 30 people, including teammate Ezekiel Elliott.
While local police later were unable to corroborate the existence of said party’s attendance numbers—and Prescott’s associate has said that the party was within the guidelines—it nevertheless prompted questions being levied at the league.
“Everyone associated with the NFL should follow the recommendations and guidelines of state and local authorities and medical experts”, a league spokesman said earlier today, via Pro Football Talk. “We want all personnel to model safe and appropriate health practices”.
There have been several prominent players who have shared workout videos with themselves and other athletes, most notably the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown conducting a practice session with former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
NFL Draft prospect Tua Tagovailoa also held a simulated Pro Day of sorts recently and sent that tape out to teams, which is important for him as he comes back from a knee injury. Given that teams are unable to bring him in for physicals, they are going to be hesitant to draft him.
There is really only so much the NFL can do to discourage players from parting with social distancing recommendations, although as the article above points out, they are not doing as much as other leagues may be doing, such as issuing fines (from the teams directly) for players who violate regional guidelines.
It seems as though every week we are learning more and more about just how extensively we misread the contagiousness of this particular coronavirus, which has proven to be more suited to transmission than any other of its cousins among humans previously known.
Worrying reports of gatherings—a church choir, a funeral—that have seen more than half of those in attendance come down with the virus, several of them dying, should serve as a lesson to how important social distancing is at this time.
We know that asymptomatic people are capable of transmitting the virus. Some models have predicted that up to 25 or even 50 percent of all cases may be currently unknown and among an asymptomatic population.
While it is possible to conduct a practice session among people who know one another and have a high degree of confidence that they are not infected—especially if they have gotten tested—there are those who have questioned the optics of having NFL players out and about. That is less significant than having a large gathering at a birthday party—if that even happened—but either way, it doesn’t appear as though the league is eager to enforce any kind of discipline pertaining to this matter.