While other sports are trying to gin up plans to either start or re-start their seasons on the fly, the NFL had the benefit of being in the early stage of its offseason when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
And that time is something the league needs to use to its advantage, according to one union rep.
Longtime Washington long snapper Nick Sundberg, who is the team’s representative to the NFLPA, told NBCSportsWashington.com that taking a patient approach will be key for football.
“I think to be cautious is the biggest thing. I don’t want to rush into anything,” Sundberg said. “Especially since we have time on our side right now, we’re not missing games today, we’re months away from that.”
While the NHL is about to conduct its playoffs in to-be-determined locations, and the NBA is considering options, baseball’s in the middle of a labor dispute regarding its ability to open.
But once those sports return, Sundberg believes the best plan is to use them as data points, and copy what works in terms of safety practices and testing policies.
“If it were me leading our approach, I would create a blueprint from the MLB and the NHL. I would wait to see what they do and see what works and what doesn’t,” Sundberg said. “Compare and contrast the two leagues on how they went about the situation of getting teams in the facilities, how they went about practice, who was allowed in the building, how they went about games.
“I would try and model, take what they do and make it better if we can. Unless they just roll out a perfect plan, then that’s our blueprint. . . . Track data over a month, month and a half, six weeks. Let’s see how many players contracted, how many coaches, how many front office and staff members and that sort of thing.”
The NFL can also look to the Premier League for an example. The English soccer league has just cleared the way for team practices in hopes of a June return. With players working out individually, the league has tested regularly. Last week, 996 individuals were tested over three days, and two positive tests from two different clubs emerged. The previous week, there were six positive tests among three clubs in the 748 tests administered.