NFL teams have had the benefit of working in their quasi-bubbles for the last month, able to sequester themselves and keep everything about football.
This week, half of them have to venture outside, and that’s creating a new set of adjustments.
Via Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he’s adjusting the team’s normal travel schedule to account for the challenges of COVID-19.
They’d normally fly out early afternoon, but they’ll fly to Minnesota later in the day Saturday since they don’t have the normal liberty once they get there.
“As far as the travel party goes, there are definitely some restrictions this year,” LaFleur explained. “There’s new rules in terms of when we get to wherever we’re going, we can’t leave the hotel, we can’t have people come in and see us. It’s going to be a lot different for our players.
“Typically, you’d like to give them time before our night meetings to go out and have dinner or go see somebody, but that’s not going to be the case this year. So, we’re going to leave a little bit later and adjust that way because we are going to be cooped up in the hotel the entire time.”
Beyond the last-minute team meetings and preparations for Sunday’s game, LaFleur’s also considering how to break the monotony since players can’t go out to seek their own entertainment.
“You’ve still got to keep your distance from one another; we’re going to be inside, so we’ve got to be wearing our masks. We’ve got to be mindful of just the whole contact tracing and how that has a major impact on our football team,” LaFleur said. “But at the same time, we’re going to try to create some opportunities for those team-bonding moments, whether it’s allowing the guys to get together and maybe play cards or whatever it may be. I know we’ve had a lot of people brainstorming on exactly what it is that we can do with these guys to allow that kind of fellowship to take place.”
That’s one of many challenges that begin this week, as the NFL’s good work in limiting COVID-19 is put to its first major test.