The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Holding all training camp meetings virtually is the sensible and safe compromise in the middle of a pandemic.
Explanation: The nature of this offseason is going to make it very difficult for teams to field clean football this year. In the name of safety, the players union is looking to make it even more difficult, but much safer. Compromises between health and efficacy are a routine feature of such times.
The virus spreads when people gather in close quarters, especially inside, and especially when they are speaking and opening their mouths. That’s what a meeting is. There are countless stories of people contracting the coronavirus or being forced into quarantine under similar circumstances, whether it’s a church choir, a school board gathering, or an actual team meeting in another league.
Meetings during training camp are going to be almost entirely instructional anyway, which means a coach is going to be lecturing a bunch of inexperienced players whose job it is to listen. This is something that can be easily done virtually without much loss, so from that perspective, it is the obvious approach that must be taken in the name of player safety, especially during a period of the offseason that doesn’t even count.
The NFL has made the proposal of holding meetings outdoors, rather than indoors. That is helpful in reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus as long as other protocols—namely practicing social distancing and wearing masks—are adhered to.
The NFLPA wants to limit players’ time spent at the team facilities, but it’s not too much to ask to have players show up to attend a meeting and then leave again. A virtual meeting can simulate a lot of things, but not everything, and both sides need to keep that in mind as they proceed. It might be especially beneficial to younger players. Perhaps they can structure meetings so that portions are geared specifically toward young players, which veterans can skip, which would also reduce the number of bodies involved.