As the first week of the regular season arrives, concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks among NFL teams significantly have subsided. And that’s making some folks in the league nervous.
For several weeks, coaches and General Managers have worried that the league’s success when it comes to containing the pandemic will lead to complacency. As one league source explained it to PFT over the weekend, veteran players are increasingly concerned that young players will need to be monitored more closely now that training camp is over, rosters are set (for the most part), and players will be spending less time under close supervision of coaching staffs.
From players having many evenings off to weekly days off to having visitors coming to town to doing things that they otherwise didn’t have the time to do during camp, there will be more opportunities to yield to the temptation to do things that could increase the risk of getting infected. As Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told his players at the outset of training camp, the teams that manage the virus the most effectively will be the most likely to succeed.
Most teams have managed it well so far. Things will now change, and it will require even greater focus from young players and greater vigilance from veterans and coaching staffs to limit the chances of younger players brining the virus to the practice facility, the practice field, and games.
The league’s ability to minimize COVID-19 infections has created plenty of confidence that the games will be played. However, some teams could still end up without key players for key games. And for plenty of teams, a play here or there in a game here or there can be the difference between making it to the playoffs, hosting playoffs games, and/or ultimately punching a ticket to the Super Bowl.