While this shouldn’t be any surprise, according to the prospective Gameday Protocol that was shared yesterday by Albert Breer, it specifically bans media access to the locker rooms. This is in order to preserve the locker room environment from cross-contamination, and all non-essential personnel are barred from accessing these environments, which will be repeatedly cleaned on game day, from the areas as well.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 9, 2020
Post-game interviews are an essential part of football coverage in today’s environment. They have always been, but now more than ever in the fast-paced media environment, comments from players are part of the fabric of the multi-faceted media presentation of a game, including us bloggers.
Now, the protocol does not mean that we won’t be hearing from players. In fact, it refers to a separate Media Protocol that lays out media access and procedures, but unfortunately this has not yet been made available, to the best of my knowledge, so we don’t know what the details include.
Elsewhere in the document, it states that the league and teams may have a limited number of camera personnel on the field to cover pre-game business, including warmups, limited to two league and one team camera person per team. Media are not allowed in the stadium arrival and departure areas, and they may only record them from a distance of greater than 12 feet.
Media personnel who cover pregame activities must remain as near to the stadium barriers, off the playing field, as possible, and are not permitted to access areas in which players will be, including the entrance tunnels to the field.
The camera personnel for NFL Films will have permission to film pregame warmups, but they must maintain a distance at all times of three yards (nine feet) or more while doing so, and while donning the appropriate PPE. The team cameraperson must follow the same protocol. These are the only non-player personnel permitted to be on the field during warmups.
It will be interesting to see what the media access protocol will look like, whenever we get a hold of that. Presumably, it isn’t even finalized yet. It’s fair to say that at least the vast majority if not all media access will be conducted virtually, including coaches’ post-game press conferences.
Players have certain media obligations that they must fulfill during the course of the season. The league understands that this is an important element of their brand, so I’m sure that they will find ways that allow fans to gain access to player thoughts regarding games. Only they will not be as immediate as we have come to expect, with interviews with players as they’re literally walking off the field.
But if it means getting football in September, it’s a small sacrifice to make.