The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen the NFL continuing its habit of being more reactive than proactive. And the latest reaction by the NFL points directly to another inevitable reaction from the league.
The decision to close all facilities in order to “ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field” as the draft approaches could lead directly to a decision to eliminate all offseason programs for 2020. If even only one team cannot conduct an offseason program due to a “stay at home” order in that team’s state, the playing field will not be level unless all teams cannot conduct an offseason program.
So it’s time to start being proactive. If there will be no way for all teams to have an offseason program as the COVID-19 pandemic results in the migration of hot spots and, in turn, “stay at home” orders throughout the country, the league should make the decision to cancel the offseason programs now — and to create immediately a set of rules that will allow players to learn playbooks, study film, attend meetings, and engage in workouts from home.
It’s hardly ideal, but it’s better than leaving the players to their own devices for the next several months, resulting in some of them finding a way to stay in shape and some of them lacking the discipline and motivation to remain in desired condition without the structure that comes from working out at the facility with the team.
The sooner the NFL recognizes the reality that the ball is moving in this direction, the sooner the NFL will identify an alternative procedure that allows players and teams to get ready for the season. Or as ready as they’re going to be for the season. If there’s going to be a season.