NFL needs offseason programs that reflect our work-at-home reality

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The NFL believes it’s premature to speculate that offseason programs will be wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not; the time is now for the NFL and its teams to envision every possible scenario relating to the public-health crisis and to plan for each potential outcome.

If, as it appears, the offseason programs will be at least truncated and potentially eliminated by the virus, a replacement for the offseason program becomes necessary. Meetings could happen with players participating from home (but hopefully not taking their computers to the bathroom). Workouts could happen with the players doing exercises from home, either alone or where possible in small groups — ideally with members of the coaching staff supervising.

Whatever the specifics, the teams need to be coming up with alternate plans now for the various phases of the offseason program, and the league and the union need to show flexibility in allowing these approaches. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in workout bonuses on the line, the teams need to find a way for the players to earn that money while in turn preparing for the season to come (if there is one).

For now, everyone needs to assume that there will be no offseason work in the traditional sense, and they need to plan for something else to replace it. Otherwise, there’s a chance that, when training camp opens, more than a few players could be woefully unprepared for the physical demands.