On Sunday, after it was announced that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive multiple times for Covid-19, Josina Anderson reported that a representative of the NFLPA said that he felt that the NFL should reconsider what appeared to be a strong position against the concept of playing the 2020 season in a ‘bubble’ atmosphere.
The MLB, like the NFL, has been operating outside of a bubble, and it is now currently dealing with two teams experiencing an outbreak. While the Miami Marlins, with a roster largely made up of replacement players, are set to resume play today, the St. Louis Cardinals are now facing an outbreak of their own.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred came out over the weekend and let it be known that the season will continue, although he warned that if the situation continues to deteriorate, that status could change, and that it largely hinges upon the personal responsibility of the players, which was the Marlins’ downfall.
While a true ‘bubble’ environment like that of the NBA and NHL would be too impractical to apply to the NFL due to the significantly larger number of players and personnel that would have to be sequestered for the duration of a more extended season—the other two leagues are merely completing seasons that had already begun—the NFL is not opposed to adapting, should it become necessary.
The league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, allowed the door to remain open for the possibility that teams could be limited to hotels during the 2020 season, according to Mike Florio for Pro Football Talk, as he discussed on his show.
Sills maintained that the league is committed to pursuing the current plan for as long and as far as practicality would allow, but when pushed by Florio, he acknowledged that the possibility exists that they could improvise and require that players remain with their teams during the year, instead of generally being on their own, as normal, when away from the team facility.
Arguably the biggest obstacle involved in undertaking this sort of shift once the season has begun would be the implications. It would likely require another round of giving players the opportunity to opt out, even while the season is in progress, because the circumstances changed, for example.
As of now, players are just beginning to step foot on practice fields again, and we are still a month away before any games are played. We can only hope that all 32 teams will be able to keep the coronavirus out of their facilities once the initial positives are addressed.