The NFL has already cancelled every off-season workout and program which normally precedes training camps across the league. They’ve also cancelled half of the 2020 preseason with more to come potentially following an NFLPA vote to cancel all of it.
All of these cancellations are aimed at doing one thing: Ensuring the 2020 NFL Season is a go.
The league is willing to, and may just have to sacrifice everything but the regular season if they have any chance of getting full slate of games executed this season. This includes limiting or completely eliminating fans from attending the games, relying instead on television feeds.
It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility the regular season could even be shortened, though I don’t think we’re quite on the cusp of this reality just yet.
No matter, the reality the league is in is a dark one for the most part. Restricted operations, limited preparation time, almost no chance for teams to fully incorporate their new players before having to strap on the pads for the real thing.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fortunate in that they’ve had several players, led by Tom Brady, meeting for private workouts of their own. Thus far, there haven’t been any known health concerns coming from those workouts, but the team’s head coach isn’t confident this fact would carry through a regular season if there is one.
“We’ve got to be careful,” Arians told the Tampa Bay Times. “The players, they’re going to all get sick, that’s for sure. It’s just a matter of how sick they get.”
Pretty strong words from the head coach about the risks involved in playing in the most physical professional sports league on the planet. And I don’t know any science or medical professionals would strongly oppose his stance.
At current numbers, less than 1% of the United States population has been confirmed as being infected by COVID-19. According to the CDC, 1.9 Million Americans have tested positive. Per the Census Bereau, as of July 8th, the United States population was 329 Million, meaning 3.29 Million Americans would have to test positive to reach a 1% infection spread. Numbers which don’t sound all too bad in the grand scheme of things.
However, what we’ve seen is there are populations which have proven to be at higher risk, and higher amount of collective infections in specific regions, including the state of Florida.
A popular anecdote is the bowl of M&Ms question. If I were to hand you a bowl of 100 M&Ms and told you only one in the bowl would make you sick, would you eat one? If I handed you another bowl of 100 M&Ms and told you each of them would absolutely make you sick, and one would kill you, would you still take one?
These are questions only each individual can answer. Meanwhile, the league continues to work towards protocols for the NFL which will likely mirror some of the other major sports leagues who have already seen some major names opt out of their respective seasons.
It doesn’t appear Bruce Arians is looking for an opt out option however, as he also commented to the Times,
“I’ll probably double a mask and a (face) shield. You know, because I already had my scare out there (in Arizona) once a couple of years ago. For me personally, I’ve got a plan and I just have to be smart enough to stay with it.”
Being a professional athlete requires passion and absolute dedication. So to, does being a successful professional coach. Sometimes the passion and dedication can come at the expense of things like personal health.
NFL teams are less than three weeks from fully reporting to training camps. So there should be much more news coming down the pipe in the coming days and weeks pertaining to how teams and the league plan to tackle organizational health.