Some of you may not like this, but it is an inevitability: as the scheduled start of training camp nears, we are going to be talking more and more about Covid-19. The NFL and NFLPA are working on plans to navigate the pandemic amid a football season, so it’s going to produce news and information as a consequence as we move along.
I know some of you only want to hear about Xs and Os, but we don’t live in a fantasy world, and neither does the NFL, so they have to figure out how to get their Xs and Os in as safely as possible, so we can all actually enjoy some football.
With that out of the way, the latest from the NFL’s chief medical expert, Dr. Allen Sills, is this: there will be no almighty, unchangeable coronavirus protocol once the season gets underway. It’s going to have to be subject to change over time to account for new data that we gain from actual implementation.
“I absolutely expect that our protocols will change and will evolve as we go through the regular season based upon some of this new knowledge”, Sills said, via the Washington Post. “That’s the nature of medical practice: that we’re always looking to improve based upon emerging knowledge and emerging data and those things will change”.
“I don’t think none of us should be surprised by that and that’s part of our commitment on the health and safety side is to try to stay abreast of what’s happening in the medical fields and in the other sports leagues and continue to improve those protocols for the safety of everyone”, he added.
Sills also was quick to point out that the NFL is working in conjunction with all other leagues as they begin restarting activity. The NBA is not a guinea pig, so to speak. “We’re working together as a group of medical professionals saying how can we do the best job in taking care of our patients in creating the safest possible environments”, he said.
Whatever the NFL and the NFLPA come up with over the course of the next couple of weeks, it’s going to evolve and change once we get into September and October and figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what could be improved or enhanced—as well as what is impractical.
It’s not yet finalized, but the preseason is expected to be shortened by at least two games, possibly more (though unlikely). Teams may restrict training camp rosters to 75-80 players, and they may be required to work in separate groups at different times.
We may see similar practices during the regular season. Practices may be staggered. Perhaps some meetings will remain entirely virtual. Film study will be made more accessible virtually. Whatever works, that will be what is kept, and emphasized. Those protocols that aren’t working will be changed. Sounds obvious enough.