We are officially one week away from when the San Francisco 49ers players are scheduled to report for training camp.
Obviously, things are a little different this year. The pandemic is still going strong four months after it began wreaking havoc around the world. The NFL is still targeting the Sept. 10 start date, but the lead up to the season will not be the same.
It looks like there will be no preseason this year. Players will be subjected to regular COVID-19 testing, and fans will probably not be allowed to enter stadiums for games. It’s going to be weird seeing football with no one in attendance.
The MLS and English Premier League have resumed things without a hitch so far. The MLB, NBA, and NHL are set to return over the next couple of weeks with different plans. Basketball and hockey will be played in bubbles where players are pretty much closed off from the rest of the world. A lot of NFL players took to social media to voice their displeasure with how the league was proceeding with safety protocols:
The NFL has ignored the safety recommendations from the experts that THEY hired. We all love this game and want to go out and compete with our brothers. The NFL needs to provide a safe work environment for us to do that. #WeWantToPlay— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) July 19, 2020
It will be interesting to see how baseball plays out. Teams will be traveling to different cities to pay games, and won’t be stuck in one area for many months. The NFL should keep a close eye on how things transpire with the MLB season. The plan is to proceed as normal, with players going back-and-forth to their team’s home city, so if we see a spike in cases among MLB players, the NFL may have to change course.
Football is just a different sport. The total amount of players and coaches traveling together for each squad can get up to roughly 100 people. No other sport has that big of a contingent. Social distancing will be tough to maintain both on-and-off the field.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there were more than 56,00 confirmed positive tests and 372 deaths across the country yesterday alone. Cases are still increasing in pretty much every state that is home to an NFL team. Simply put, the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The league didn’t take advantage of the time it had to prepare for this. COVID-19 has had the world at a standstill since March, but the NFL has remained steadfast that it will proceed as scheduled rather than come up with a contingency plan. The silver-lining With players now beginning to report, the league will have the opportunity to test and isolate anyone who is positive without altering the start date.
The issue for me is what happens if a player gets the virus during the season. Players are in close proximity throughout the week, so chances are if one of them gets it, it will spread the locker room rather quickly. Can you imagine if Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Richard Sherman, and Nick Bosa all contract the virus? Would the 49ers be forced to play one-or-two games without them in the lineup?
I am skeptical at this point, but that could change if the rest of the leagues —especially the MLB given the similarities— go on without any issues.
We still have a lot of time before Week 1 is scheduled to kick-off, but how confident are you that the NFL season will begin on time, and go on without a hitch?