Last week, Roger Goodell said that he was hopeful teams would be able to begin bringing some of their coaching staff back to the facilities this week. It’s now Thursday and there has yet to be any update regarding the progress toward that stated goal, which came directly from the commissioner of the league.
“We expect that next week clubs will be permitted to include members of their coaching staffs among the employees permitted to resume work in the club facility”, he wrote in a memo roughly a week ago. “We are actively working with governors and other state and local authorities in those states that have not yet announced definitive plans and will confirm the precise date on which coaches can return to the facility as soon as possible”.
The problem, of course, is that not all teams have yet re-opened their team facilities. The New York Giants and New York Jets were the latest to reopen, doing so yesterday, but the Buffalo Bills, for example, have not opened yet.
From what I can dig up, the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions, and the Carolina Panthers are among the remaining teams who have yet to reopen. Other teams, like the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, and New Orleans Saints, reportedly intend to remain closed until training camp.
The NFL indicated that part of the reopening process for players and coaches was tied to competitive balance. I believe at least two NFL teams—the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers—may not yet be legally permitted to do so by their local governments, though admittedly my information could be a bit outdated.
Either way, at this point, it seems unlikely that we will see the NFL allow coaches to return to team facilities this week. So what is realistic from this point forward? In reality, it could simply depend upon how much integrity exists behind the league’s desire to retain competitive balance.
At a bare minimum, I don’t think we will see any further movement until all 32 teams at least have the legal right to reopen, whether they choose to do so or not. Obviously with some teams already actively choosing to keep their facilities shut down, it’s hard to see that affecting the league’s decision to allow other teams to engage in some type of activity, if approved.
Truth be told, though, at this point, it doesn’t make much difference. Even if coaches report to facilities tomorrow, it would still be weeks before players were allowed to report, and they wouldn’t be allowed to report all at one time. In effect, it would just be coaches doing Zoom meetings with players at their homes while the coaches are sitting in their offices.