Should NFL consider sequestering individual teams for the full season?

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A full, league-wide NFL bubble isn’t practical, given the sheer numbers of players and coaches and other essential personnel involved. But virtual bubbles consisting only of 32 team facilities may not be practical, either.

Players and coaches will leave those bubbles for their homes, regularly. Even if they never leave their homes until returning to work, family members surely will. And if one of them brings the virus home, the player or coach may then bring it to the bubble. Unless and until the NFL secures rapid and reliable point-of-care testing, a 24-hour lag will exist between sample collection and test result. Which means that a player who tested negative yesterday may be positive today, but no one will know until tomorrow.

One way to minimize that risk would be to create an even stronger bubble around each team. What if, then, one or more team sequester all players, coaches, and staff in a hotel for the entire season?

Plenty of players wouldn’t like it. Plenty of players would strongly considering opting out over it. At the end of the day, the league likely would have 32 teams made up of enough players, coaches, etc. who would sign up for the five-month sequestration, if the alternative was to not work at all this season.

This approach would significantly enhance the chances of getting all 256 regular-season and 13 postseason games played. And it would significantly enhance the chances of the players and other employees getting paid their full salaries.

This would be an extreme approach, without question. But if it’s the only way to minimize outbreaks and, in turn, to get the games played, it should at least be considered.

Perhaps it’s a strategy that could be used in specific locations, based on the local status of the pandemic. In some cities that currently are among the world’s biggest hot spots, a team could begin the season in sequestration and then revert to everyone living it home. In others, the need for sequestration may arise during the season. For others, the whole season may consist of living in a hotel.

Regardless, it’s important for the league to at least be exploring options like this, if the goal is — as it should be — to play every game, without postponement or cancellation.

20 responses to “Should NFL consider sequestering individual teams for the full season?

  1. Definitely. A lot of money is involved, so all options should be considered. The MLB model will not last. There will be no World Series in October, unless they cancel games (not postpone) and readjust their schedules and protocols. As long as rules are not broken, the NBA and NHL should be able to have a successful postseason. The NFL has the good fortune of being able to learn from the other leagues in terms of what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully they will pay attention and put firm but logical rules in place.

  2. I know this will sound harsh, but perhaps the NFL should consider reacting similarly to every other entity during this pandemic. Take all reasonable measures to avoid contamination; Allow employees the freedom to decide if returning to work is the right choice for them; If someone displays symptoms, send them home and get them tested; Ask the “at risk” people to use extra precaution to protect themselves; Above all else, respect the statistical/scientific data that suggests that an astounding majority of healthy people will handle Covid with very little issue. And remember, this will be the very first Pandemic in the history of the United States where our national Population is actually growing instead of decreasing.

  3. The logistics of doing a bubble a full season would be incredibly hard. Football has the largest rosters of any major sport and the NBA and NHL are only using the bubble for their playoffs meaning that not every team is included and 50% of those who are will be eliminated and released from the bubble after the first round. Their bubbles will become smaller and easier to manage as time goes by whereas for a regular season the NFL’s would remain just as large and ungainly throughout.

  4. The average NFL salary is $2.7M.

    People get sequestered for jury duty that long, with much less pay.

    Point is, if you’re determined to play 16 games with all 32 teams, plus playoffs, both the teams and the players will have to make sacrifices. Whether it’s financial, ability to visit family, masks and protocols, etc.

    Will they be willing to sequester themselves for 4 months, for their exorbitant salaries?

  5. The logistics are incredible to fathom.

    Do you rent the whole hotel since different guest would surely arrive and leave? There are also the employees of the hotel, would they be require to stay?

    Asking people to not see your spouses/kids/family is one big ask.

    I hope there is a season but not hopeful.

  6. There is no way that the NFL could sequester the players for a season. Even if they tried by team facility there is no way that the players would adhere. Your talking about young players that are use to living the night life. Many players that like the lifestyle more than the game itself. If a few leave it really destroys the premise. By no means is that going to work or should be considered.

  7. NFL should have setup an Olympic style village in a few locations. Take over a few college campuses cause they will be empty and make a bunch of mini bubbles. It’s extreme but if you wanna play and get paid extreme is th3 way to go in a pandemic.

  8. I just don’t see any realistic way that the season is going to be able to be completed. Sure, it might begin, but it won’t be completed.

  9. “Asking people to not see your spouses/kids/family is one big ask.”

    I think asking a man to pay $800+ to take his spouse and two kids to see a game in a stadium he helped pay for is a big ask, but the league has been doing that for years.

  10. “Perhaps it’s a strategy that could be used in specific locations, based on the local status of the pandemic.”

    The local status can change in a week or two. Wouldn’t work.

  11. I’ve thought all along the NFL should have 32 bubbles. I know it would be hard to do and extremely expensive but it seems like the only way to guarantee a season. Using chartered flights, one bubble flys to another bubble city. It would take a lot of sacrifice from players and coaches but it could work. If you’re an underwater welder you go where the work is and live accordingly. Guys would have to make tough decisions.

  12. kwken says:
    July 29, 2020 at 12:08 pm
    The logistics are incredible to fathom.

    Do you rent the whole hotel since different guest would surely arrive and leave? There are also the employees of the hotel, would they be require to stay?

    Asking people to not see your spouses/kids/family is one big ask.

    Yes, rent the hotel and pay the workers. Give players the option of “renting” a room for their families too. Families will need to follow the same protocol, and not leave the hotel for the entirety of the season. If they can’t comply, they can always facetime every day from their mansion.

  13. Based upon what we are seeing with MLB, I think the NFL has got to consider a minimal travel semi-bubble model…. where they pick a region with lots of NFL and big time college stadiums (assuming no NCAA games this fall) in close proximity… like NYC, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore… rent out an area like an Oylimpic style village to keep everyone together to play the season.

  14. I still think this season is going to start like the strike-loaded 1982 season — play two weeks, see the virus really take off like it’s doing in MLB now, postpone games for a while. Then someone high in management (read: commissioner) will get nervous about having the Super Bowl, bring everyone back and just work through it to have Super Sunday at any cost. Pay attention, NFL — MLB is living your nightmare scenario right now.

  15. Anything less than “I’m fully prepared to sequester myself for 4-5 months” is pure lunacy. Look around, every company right now is struggling to answer and execute on the question a) How do we continue to make money? b) how do we keep our staff employed? Every business right now is its own little tribe attempting to answer that question, and if you all can’t come together and do it properly, then maybe the NFL deserves to go under and have a new American Football competitor emerge from the ashes. Figure out how to make your money this year, how to keep your staff employed, and shut up as you make billions doing it. Figure this out NFL. You’re part of a larger business ecosystem too.

  16. Could they bubble off segments of the season? Like…6 weeks in one location for each division, 3 week bubble for all 1st-4th place schedule games, 3 week bubble for the nfc division a particular division faces (ex: nfc East vs nfc west) and 4 week bubble for the afc division (ex: nfc north vs afc south). Not sure if all that is possible but they have to do something if they expect to get through the season. I’m worried it starts and doesn’t finish if they do nothing

  17. NO! They should let them go home to their families like every American who currently works. Football is not everything. If some get sick then they can sit, no bid deal.

  18. “Should NFL consider sequestering individual teams for the full season?” – Asking for a friend

  19. Let them conjugate, huddle, whatever and see what happens. Would be interesting to see if this thing spreads and takes over?

  20. It would be tough, but doable. The bubble format is the only thing that can come close to allowing for a full season. There is no way they can control anything doing less than that. The current format is going to be a disaster as soon as they start coming down with Covid.

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