With the NFL still reeling from its first Covid-19 outbreak and now experiencing a day in which players from three different teams all tested positive—including two teams who now have multiple simultaneous cases—many of those in the league without decision-making power have been questioning how they are handling things, and what they will and should do.
The idea of putting a pause on the season for a week or two has been discussed by those on the outside. An idea that has been circulating for a long time, which is to house teams in hotels during the course of the season to keep them in a sort of ‘bubble’ environment, has also been tossed about.
According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, however, the league is not currently expected to entertain either of these steps in the immediate future based on what has already transpired, maintaining the belief that strict adherence to the protocols already in place should be sufficient.
“The NFL is not giving serious consideration to pausing the season or going to home market bubbles with mandatory hotel stays for players, coaches and team staffers when they leave team facilities each day, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s thinking”, Maske wrote yesterday.
“The NFL remains firmly convinced that its protocols work when they’re followed. The league has given preliminary consideration to adding an 18th week to the regular season to accommodate further postponed games, according to two people familiar with the league’s planning”.
Earlier in the day, NFL chief medical adviser Dr. Allen Sills spoke to Judy Battista about the same topic, and whether or not the league would entertain the ideas mentioned above, and he more or less expressed the same sentiment.
“We said all along, every option is on the table. We’ve never taken any option off the table, which includes some type of pause or reset, and any other type of arrangements”, he said. “But right now, what we’re focused on is, what can we learn from each of these situations, trying to make sure that transmission is not ongoing in those situations”.
He stressed that the league has produced over 400,000 Covid-19 tests with a little over 80 positives in total, “and the overwhelming majority of those cases, we’ve not seen transmissions, we’ve only seen it occur in Tennessee, and possibly in New England”.
“We just have to continue to close any loopholes, and we’ve said all along, this is gonna be hard”, he continued. “This virus is a relentless opponent. It needs only a small crack. And even 90-95 percent compliance with our protocols is not enough. That’s not a passing grade, because that still leaves us a bit vulnerable”.
Hopefully this is as tough as the road gets for the NFL, because any further would bring them to a crossroads. Will they have to halt the season? Will there be teams who cannot play 16 games? Will they have to resort to placing teams in hotels to ensure compliance?