As we have already written, team facilities are permitted to reopen as of tomorrow, in the ‘phase one’ limited capacity, with heavy restrictions. I thought it would be important to detail exactly what this means, and what it does not, because this first phase of reopening remains far from a return to on-field practice.
First and foremost, only teams who have permission from their local governments will be allowed to reopen. Previous estimates indicate that about 22 teams should in theory be permitted to reopen. However, any team that wants to reopen has to meet certain standards with the league first. They can reopen facilities at any time starting on Tuesday once they meet the qualifications, provided governmental allowance.
So who exactly will be in the building? Not coaches. According to the memo Roger Goodell sent out late last week, up to 75 personnel, in total, spread out across all of a team’s facilities, will be permitted, at 50 percent capacity, and that personnel will consist of football operations, equipment, and medical staff, as well as nutritionists.
Commissioner Goodell sent this memo to teams today about reopening their facilities: pic.twitter.com/037uKybDNV
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 15, 2020
Only the strength and conditioning coach would be allowed into the facility, and that is if any only if he had been previously engaged in rehabilitation work with players. If that is the case, he can continue that work at the facility, but otherwise, he will not be allowed to report until the other coaches do.
No players except for those rehabbing from injuries, as should go without saying, will be permitted to enter team facilities. Obviously, this would include players like Ben Roethlisberger, who could meet with James Bradley, for example.
“This first phase of reopening is an important step in demonstrating our ability to operate safely and effectively, even in the current environment”, Goodell said in the memo. “After we implement this first phase, and as more states and localities enact policies that allow more club facilities to reopen, I expect that additional staff, likely including coaching staff, will be allowed to return to club facilities in a relatively short time”.
What is a relatively short time? Who knows? Mid-June? Late-June? Maybe even that is overly optimistic. In the meantime, the other major leagues, who had to pause seasons that were in progress, are trying to start up again, and the NFL will be watching to see how they undertake that.
So, long story short, this reopening doesn’t currently change anything from an on-field perspective. All players and coaches will still be conducting business virtually. But getting facilities opened and demonstrating working capacity is an important step, all the same, in getting the players back in the building as well.