As we get closer and closer to the scheduled start of training camp, it is unfortunately not feeling more and more likely that everything will go off without a hitch. We are running out of room tot use the line, ‘there’s still time’, to justify our current conditions and reconcile that with the expectations of a normal football season.
The NFL is going to do everything under its power tot have a normal 16-game regular season and full playoffs, of course, whether or not they have to do it with stuffed animals or cardboard cutouts or blow-up dolls in the stands instead of human beings. Everything else is pretty much up for alteration.
Including the preseason. The league has already cancelled the Hall of Fame game (as well as the 2020 enshrinement ceremonies, an unfortunately casualty of the pandemic), but many believe the rest of the preseason is at risk, at least of truncation, as well. That’s the latest from Mike Garafolo, who spoke on this issue on the NFL Network yesterday:
Many, including the sources that are calling me daily, I’m getting multiple calls saying, ‘hey, FYI, they’ve knocked the preseason down to two games’. Folks, you’re not wrong, you’re just early. This is still something that’s being discussed between the Players Association and the league. These are ongoing discussions happening right now as they try to figure out how to have a plan for the start of training camp, and there are different timelines being kicked around as far as when rookies might be able to come in, a week before the scheduled start of training camp, maybe some veterans before there to start to get those guys ramped up to get ready for the start of camp. But when you look at the timeline, if players show up on July 28, it’s gonna be really hard for them to be ready to play a football game a little more than two weeks later than that scheduled date.
From NFL Now on @nflnetwork: It’s sounding more and more likely the preseason will be shortened but nothing is finalized, as the league and NFLPA continue to discuss that issue and much more. pic.twitter.com/8i3iW5Ubor
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 30, 2020
With four weeks to go before teams open training camp, the NFL and NFLPA are doing their best to hammer out the crucial final details about health and safety protocols, while at the same time entertaining contingencies about what to do in the event of a predictable situation arising.
Quarantine infected players and anyone who was exposed to said positively-tested individuals is a given. But what if 30-plus players have to be quarantined, as we’ve seen on college teams? How do they manage this? Does a team forfeit a game? Is the game postponed? Is it simply not included in their record? Will there be emergency fill-in players to sign?
As we stand here today, players haven’t had a single second of on-field team activity since the end of last season. July 28 will be their first taste of that, and they’ll be feeling out how to navigate football activity amid safety protocols. That’s a short turnaround between then and the start of the preseason. At this point I would be very surprised if more than two exhibition games are played.