There isn’t much, or at least so it seems, that the league and players have been able to see eye to eye on so far this offseason as it concerns creating return-to-play protocols amid a pandemic. With each passing day, we appear to be seeing more and more headlines that suggest how much further there is to go before the two sides bridge some sizeable gaps, as time runs out.
There is at least one issue that they have apparently been able to resolve, however, and even that one is…hypothetical. Assuming that there are preseason games to be played this year, the two sides have reportedly agreed on travel arrangements, after it was initially reported that the league was considering same-day travel on the date the games are to be played. Players reacted strongly against this on social media.
“The sections of the detailed protocols focus on the rules for traveling by plane and bus, PPE use, disinfection of hotel rooms, airlines, buses, equipment, and luggage, rules for hotel employees and bus drivers, food service standards, and physical distancing requirements”, Mike Florio writes of an eight-page document detailing the protocols. “The protocols also allow for discipline to be imposed in the event that club employees knowingly and materially fail to follow the protocols”.
He doesn’t specifically mention anything about when the travel days will be, but I would imagine that the NFL backed down off the idea of traveling on the same day of games and then having their team play later on the same day.
Florio notes that “the document implies strongly that there will be a preseason; however, it does not expressly state that preseason games will be played”, adding that, per a source, the length of the preseason is still being debated, which of course we already assumed.
Thus far, the NFL has officially canceled the Hall of Fame game that was scheduled to take place on August 6. That is the only 2020 football season event of the Summer that has been canceled, but it is widely expected that the league will shorten the preseason to two games. The NFLPA has recommended that no preseason games be played at all. That leaves the possibility of one preseason being played as a compromise between the two stances.
Players have also reportedly expressed concern that the league’s offseason plan is not allowing for an appropriate ‘warm up’ period that will allow players to properly get in game shape and things of that nature.
There is logic in the league’s desire to play two preseason games, as it will allow all 32 teams practice in preparing to both host and travel for a game before the start of the regular season, with the hope being that they can get some major kinks worked out prior to the games actually mattering. If only one preseason game is played, then obviously only half the teams will host a game, and only half will have traveled.