The disclosure by Chargers coach Anthony Lynn in the season premiere of Hard Knocks that he has had COVID-19 invites speculation as to how many other players and coaches and staff had it in the offseason but didn’t let it be known publicly. In turn, that invites speculation are to whether the NFL’s success in managing the virus — as of Monday, six teams had zero positive tests — has been boosted by the fact that plenty of players and coaches and staff currently have the COVID-19 antibodies, and thus (for as long as the antibodies last) can’t be infected.
Per a league source, the dynamic definitely is happening, with in some cases a predictable pattern emerging, as players who spent the offseason in places like Texas, Florida, or California more likely to have the antibodies.
Teams are testing for antibodies on a voluntary basis, and information as to the outcome of these tests has not been made available. It’s possible that a significant percentage of players and coaches and staff have the antibodies and thus won’t test positive.
That’s where this dynamic becomes interesting, and potentially concerning, going forward: It’s believed that the antibodies have only a limited life. If they wear off during the season, the risk of a positive test returns.
Depending on the actual number of players and coaches and staff who already have been infected, that could set the stage for a potential outbreak later, when the antibodies wear off and the possibility of a second infection arises.