Opinion: NFL memo shows how dangerous football can be in face of coronavirus

Opinion: NFL memo shows how dangerous football can be in face of coronavirus

Starting and finishing an NFL season in the face of the novel coronavirus never was going to be easy, but we got a glimpse of just how monumental that task will be in a memo NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent to teams Monday outlining steps they must take before players can return to team facilities.

While the NFL isn’t going the bubble route of the NBA and confining all its players to a single location, the league — in what’s sure to be the first of several sets of protocols — offered very detailed instructions on how it plans to limit the spread of the virus to players and essential team personnel, and maybe pull off a season.

Among the decrees:

Players, coaches, trainers and team personnel are to be separated into three tiers, with access to various parts of team facilities limited to only the most essential employees. This includes having a separate entrance for tiered personnel (or a dedicated time when an entrance can be used, if separate entrances aren’t possible).All players and club employees with access to restricted areas must undergo daily screening and testing prior to entering the facility. The five-part screening questionnaire includes asking players whether they’ve experienced vomiting or diarrhea in the previous 24 hours.Locker rooms must be reconfigured (to the extent possible) to allow players to maintain 6 feet of social distance at all times. Signs will be posted to discourage hand-shaking, furniture in common areas removed, and extensive cleaning protocols, including to equipment, will take place multiple times a day.Teams are to hold virtual meetings whenever possible, and teams are encouraged to move in-person meetings outdoors and have those attending wear masks. Meetings of 20 or more must be remote unless social distancing measures are in place.Workout groups are to be limited to 15 people or less, and players are encouraged to wear masks in the weight room. Similarly, trainers are to schedule appointments with players rather than have an open time for tasks such as taping ankles. And new protocols will be in place for things including eating (disposable utensils) and cleaning (where a two-week supply of some sanitizing materials is required).

While news about COVID-19 has fallen off the front page in some places, as states reopen and a new civil rights movement rages on, the coronavirus pandemic remains a serious threat to the NFL and sports in general as we’ve come to know them.

Free Press' Detroit Lions writer Dave Birkett lists his NFL power rankings, and a little insight on why each team is ranked where they are.

Goodell’s memo should help the NFL get to the starting line, but there’s still plenty to consider.

Will the preseason be delayed or shortened to give players, who’ve missed out on structured team workouts this spring, a longer acclimation period to better prevent injuries? If it is, what does that do to the start of the season?

What happens when a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19? Worse yet, what happens if the virus spreads through a locker room and leaves a team significantly short-handed for one or more weeks?

What testing protocols will the league put in place on game days? What if a player tests positive before kickoff but after arriving at the stadium (and spending time in the locker room or on a bus with teammates and coaches), or is later found to have interacted with someone else who did (a bus driver, hotel worker, fan or friend)?

What if the player who tests positive does so before a road game? How does he get home, and what happens to his teammates who traveled with him?

And what about fields? If there’s a small chance the virus lives on the indoor turf of a stadium, how can the league ensure its surfaces are safe to play on?

Lions offensive guard Frank Ragnow takes the field before the game on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Chicago.

Some of that may seem far-fetched or a bit alarmist, but that’s what the NFL must plan for this fall, and that’s why the depth of Monday’s memo is both reassuring and a bit scary.

So far, no Lions players have expressed deep concern about returning to the field, with center Frank Ragnow saying last week, “I’m a 24-year-old kid. I don’t know any better.”

Plenty of players will take that approach, ready and willing to play so long as the league and their players association agree it’s safe.

The NFL is plowing ahead, preparing for a season this fall, as it should.

But Monday’s memo is a reminder that in the age of coronavirus, we still have a long way to go.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2020/06/08/nfl-coronavirus-covid-19-season-memo-roger-goodell/5321162002/

News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »