As the NFL moves closer and closer to the opening of the 2020 season—now just two days away—the pressure is on to keep the pressure on as far as Covid-19 testing and discipline is concerned.
With the pandemic having shut down sports nationwide for months, the league was fortunate to be in its offseason at its worst stages, with less preparedness to deal with it. Since players reported in the second half of July, they have been following strict protocols, and have instituted disciplinary measures for those who violate them.
Earlier this week, the league announced that daily testing would continue indefinitely, as it has proven effective. For example, the latest round of test results were announced today. Out of nearly 45,000 total tests administered to Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel, including 2641 players, they generated just eight total new confirmed positives, and only one of them was among players, for the week of August 30-September 5.
The only player during that time who was moved to the league’s reserve/Covid-19 list during this timeframe to the best of my knowledge was rookie first-round offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson of the Tennessee Titans, so he would presumably have been the positive test.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had four players on the Covid-19 reserve early in training camp, starting with first-year player Arrion Springs, who was waived after he recovered. James Washington, second-year Justin Layne, and Jaylen Samuels were also on the list. Samuels personally confirmed that he had tested positive, but had no symptoms. We have no knowledge of whether or not the others tested positive or were exposed to a positive case.
While the league’s results have been encouraging so far throughout the process, we must understand that the biggest hurdles are yet to come, and that begins with teams traveling for games and then playing in the games.
Up to this point, each of the 32 teams have largely been in their own bubble of sorts, though not in the figurative sense that has been used for the NBA and the NHL. But their rosters have not cross-pollinated before. They haven’t been to different cities.
This is when the MLB started having problems. The NFL is aware of this and will be doing everything in its power to try to prevent from having a similar situation that would result in the postponement, and possibly even cancellation, of games.