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James Conner: Players Bracing For ‘New Normal’ For NFL Amid Pandemic, Hopes ‘We Can Get Back To It Soon’

We know training camp is going to be different this year. We know football in general may be a little bit different this year. We just don’t know how different it will be yet. Because the league doesn’t know yet. Discussions are ongoing and will be for the next month. And we don’t know what the state of the country will be in at the time football is scheduled to resume.

All the major leagues are in the process of negotiating what the safety parameters will be once players do return to action. The NFL has the furthest to go in that regard, because there is still a month and half before they play even an exhibition game, which may or may not even take place.

In the meantime, that lack of information is a bit uncomfortable, but inevitable. The NFL and NFLPA, in consultation with medical experts, will use this down time that they have as a resource to try to come up with the best strategy possible for implementing football—including whether or not fans will be in attendance, and to what degree.

Yesterday, James Conner, who has been doing the media rounds recently promoting his new book, Fear Is a Choice, was on the NFL Network to discuss a variety of topics, and during the course of the interview, he was asked about potential changes in safety regulations he expected to see due to Covid-19.

I know we’re going to have some new guidelines, probably going to have a new normal. We’re just gonna have to make it work. At the end of the day we’re gonna have to play football. We’re still kind of playing it by ear, trying to get updates on what it’s going to be like for us and how it’s going to be different, but I’m just going to take all precautions. I hope that we can get back to it soon. I miss being with my guys and teammates and all of that. Hopefully we can just get together soon, but it’s probably be a new normal, but everybody is gonna have to adjust. It’s going to be the same for everybody.

For as long as possible, the league tried to hold out hope of having some type of in-person practice before the start of training camp, but the plug was pulled on that idea in recent weeks, keeping the prohibition of players visiting team facilities in place unless they are undergoing rehab for an injury.

When they do report to training camp—which will be held at Heinz Field—what will it look like? We have some basic ideas based on what the rest of the world is doing, but this matter will be the subject of much discussion and debate between the league and the union in the coming weeks.

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