According to multiple media reports and accounts on social media, Goodell also said training camps will open on time this summer. Most teams ask veterans to report to camps by July 28.
Goodell said the plan is to “get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners,” according to an account of the call by NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport. Measures such as seat covers and extensive testing are among the precautions planned.
Compared with other leagues, the NFL has thus far put up a brave front (of denial, some critics would charge) amid COVID-19. The reality of the pandemic has shifted of late, with national caseloads rising to their highest level since April and concerns increasing about the restart of the NBA and Major League Baseball seasons.
Leading health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, in Congressional testimony a few days ago, said it would be “very hard to see how football is played” in 2020 given the high degree of physical contact on the field, among other factors. (ESPN’s Darren Rovell re-tweeted the comments by Fauci, framing it with the “hold my beer” meme.)
Malcolm Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints said earlier Thursday on CNN (where he is now an official contributor) that NFL games should be considered “non-essential,” meaning they could pause until the virus threat eases. Several NFL players, including standouts like Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott have tested positive for COVID-19, as have a range of other athletes. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
The league will need the consent of the NFL Players Association in order to implement a plan. In a concession to the moment, officials earlier Thursday scrubbed the annual Hall of Fame game and enshrinement ceremony.