NFL privately remains very confident full season will be played

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Although the Commissioner has subtly shifted his vow from playing a full season to playing a complete one, the NFL privately has a high degree of confidence that the 2020 season will be played in full, pandemic notwithstanding.

Yes, a hardened bubble in some cities may become necessary, with extended “voluntary” hotel stays by players, coaches, and essential staff (some teams will do it all week, non-stop; some are thinking about a Tuesday-to-Sunday approach), who would remain away from family in order to avoid becoming infected by kids, spouses, or others who may be living with the players, coaches, etc. But it’s believed that, if the spread of the virus can be limited during training camp (there were zero additions to the COVID-19 list on Saturday), it will become easier not harder when the time comes to play games.

The dynamics will adjust soon, once padded practices begin. For teams that aren’t practicing in their stadiums, where multiple locker rooms are available to be used (the Steelers have four at Heinz Field), it will be more difficult to keep players at least six feet apart while inside. (For some teams, locker-room proximity is already an issue.) The league remains confident, however, that transmission of the virus will be much harder to accomplish while practicing or playing, given that these activities will take place outdoors or in well-ventilated domes or facilities with high roofs.

Testing also is improving, with point of care tests recently introduced to supplement off-site testing, which takes longer to generate a result. Although the availability of reagent material could become a factor (especially if the virus continues to spread), the league remains confident that it will be able to conduct as many tests as needed.

Will there be glitches? Yes. Will some players be prevented from playing or practicing despite having no symptoms? Absolutely. Will it be enough to shut down the season or lose games? Today, five weeks from the first Sunday of the season, the league doesn’t believe so.

Others connected to the process feel differently. Some are concerned that the protocols are more about optics than safety, aimed at giving the league office cover in the event that a player, coach, staff member, or one of their family members becomes infected, gets seriously ill, and possibly dies. Right or wrong, the people who run the league remain confident that it will work.

That may hard for many to accept as the fall college football season circles the drain, but pro football has significant and fundamental differences that point to success even if college football can’t pull it off.

Either way, time will tell. In 32 days, the first game will be played, when the Texans visit the Chiefs. In 35 days, a bunch of other games will be played. After the first wave of games, if there’s no spike in positive tests that wipes out rosters or position groups or chunks of coaching staffs, maybe it will work.

19 responses to “NFL privately remains very confident full season will be played

  1. They are going to be in for a rude awakening. They’ve taken no steps to isolate the players throughout the season like the NBA and NHL have successfully done. They could have done much more, like created several small bubbles for the first 8 weeks with divisional and common opponents playing each other. Instead, they basically are trying to have a normal season with some testing.

    This thing is going to spread like a wildfire throughout the NFL.

  2. I really hope the NFL is right and this can be done. I don’t believe it can be, but I hope I’m wrong. There’s a world of difference between college and the NFL and how life and practice can be conducted through the week.

    Not saying it will work, but the professional nature of the business gives it a better chance.

  3. Right or wrong, the NFL is full speed ahead. Just like they were with the draft. They’re gonna play

  4. Full season I doubt. They will play but I fear things will be uneven. I see games being postponed and rescheduled. Some teams probably will play more games than others.

  5. If the NFL is confident about the season being played then why did they cancel the preseason?

  6. Why not delay the season for 2 months and have the SB in April. What’s the big deal. Maybe fans can go to the games.

  7. Can’t imagine not having the NFL to watch in the fall, hopefully there’s a (full) season. This year, depth will be more important than ever.

  8. Others connected to the process feel differently. Some are concerned that the protocols are more about optics than safety, aimed at giving the league office cover in the event that a player, coach, staff member, or one of their family members becomes infected, gets seriously ill, and possibly dies.

    I think that opt out covered alot of those bases.

  9. As I said before and you printed it, my doctor at the largest hospital in my county told me that staff is told to list any death involving a respiratory element covid19. It makes financial sense. If anyone in my family dies of covid19 we will certainly have a independent autopsy performed for peace of mind.

  10. If there ever was a reason to go back to playing a 14 game schedule, this would be it, or at least delay the start for another month … After the election, things will be back to normal by febuary.

  11. I really doubt it.
    If they really want to play a full season then they need to follow the bubble example of the NBA and have teams meet in just a few stadiums while isolating players, coaches and staff in hotels to keep the players away from hookers and football groupies.
    They could play a few games every day this way.
    Football does not have the luxury to make up games as baseball does.
    With this being a full on contact sport with hardly any SD, I will be surprised if they pull this off.

  12. Won’t the NFL be losing tons of money this year or not make much of a profit without sold out stadiums for every game every Sun?
    If so, then why bother?
    Are they really not as greedy as they seem or is there some other hidden agenda?

  13. one thing we know for a fact is that goodell is unencumbered by the thought process.

  14. The guys on the lines are in each other’s faces huffing and snorting like rams butting heads, filling the air with germs… Not as much personal space as most sports….

  15. All one needs to do is look at the MLB and see what an unmitigated disaster that has been – the strategy of “No fans, social distance, and hope we don’t get sick!” has completely thrown their schedule into a tailspin. MLB roster is about half the size of the NFL too. This season will either a) be a total debacle from a scheduling standpoint, b) provide insanely low quality games when defense tackles are lining up as offensive linemen because the OL group all got sick or cornerbacks are playing WR because their position coach got sick and spread it to everyone in his meetings… or C) be outright cancelled.

    I want the NFL as much as the next person, but with all the money they have, it’s crazy their ‘let’s hope we don’t get sick!’ strategy is borderline insanity. I’m glad the ‘leadership’ displayed here is only in charge of a sporting league though and not an actual important function of society. That remains the silver lining.

  16. Of course they are. There was always a zero percent chance the NFL was going to voluntarily forgo all the $$ they would lose if the season didn’t happen.

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