Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that it will be difficult for the NFL to play in 2020 without implementing an NBA-style “bubble” approach. The NFL, through its chief medical officer, has responded.
“Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches, and other essential personnel,” Dr. Allen Sills said, via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. “We are developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem. This is based on the collective guidance of public health officials, including the White House tase force, the CDC, infectious disease experts, and other sports leagues.
“Make no mistake, this is no easy task. We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel, and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed.”
Most notably, Dr. Sills does not rule out a “bubble” concept. Instead, his statement implies that everything is on the table, including a “bubble” approach, as ridiculously difficult as that would be.
The other reality is that the NFLPA will need to agree to most of the safety protocols — and that the NFLPA made it clear to players last week that it has not agreed to the initial protocols. At some point, anything other than quick, efficient communication and conciliation will make it hard to get things done.