With the NBA still scrambling to bring back the regular season, and with Major League Baseball still trying to reach an agreement with players, there was a bit of wishful thinking that the NFL season, in stark contrast, would magically proceed as planned. After all, with the NFL season not poised to start until September, many people naively assumed that the coronavirus pandemic, at that point, would be nothing but a distant memory.
The coronavirus, however, remains an ongoing concern across the country. What’s more, the number of coronavirus cases in many states has started to reach record levels. Consequently, Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier today said that an NFL season this year may not happen.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble,” Fauci explained, “insulated from the community, and they are tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played.”
“If there is a second wave,” Fauci added, “which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,”
Incidentally, Fauci’s remarks come just a few days after some high-profile NFL players tested positive for the coronavirus. Earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliot tested positive. A number of other Cowboys players, in turn, also tested positive. Further, there are reports that COVID-19 recently started to spread amongst some Houston Texas players.
Similar to how the NBA season was cancelled once a player on the Utah Jazz received a positive diagnoses, there’s a chance the same thing could happen to the NFL. Given how closely packed NFL locker rooms can be, not to mention the physicality of the games themselves, it seems all but impossible to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to entire teams if just one person tests positive.
While it’s one thing to hold NFL games without a crowd, it’s hard to imagine the NFL season proceeding as planned if the league can’t even come up with a way to protect its players. And unless players are willing to be tested every day per Fauci’s remarks — which itself may not be practical — there’s a chance that 2020 could be the first full year we go without NFL football.
Looking ahead, the NFL will have to figure out a plan sooner rather than later. Though the NFL season doesn’t kick off until September 2020, NFL training camps are scheduled to begin next month.
The NFL has come up with a list of safety measures of teams to follow in light of COVID-19, and though league officials are optimistic the 2020 NFL season will happen, the unpredictability of the coronavirus might leave us without NFL football until 2021.
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