He better be wrong. Football fans will pay him to be wrong, to have made the biggest mistake in his life – ever. There are mutterings of an outside possibility that the NFL won’t be able to hold a season this year, and the Hall of Fame Game has already been canceled, thanks to COVID-19. However, Bill Cowher, the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach-turned-analyst with The NFL Today, believes that more changes could be coming to the upcoming season, and he doesn’t paint a very flattering picture for fans.
Coach Cowher – 2020 May Not See Football
Cowher, who would have been inducted into the Football Hall of Fame this year if it hadn’t been for the coronavirus, recently got together with Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. Having been through the COVID-19 ordeal personally, he knows exactly what it’s like to have to fight off the virus, and understands that many players might not be willing to take the risk. There is concern over the NFL’s health policies as the league prepares to take the field, and some feel that they’re inadequate.
Speaking to Bouchette, coach Cowher made it clear that there may not be any football this year.
“I don’t know. 1, the players have to feel comfortable with whatever they come up with from a testing standpoint, from a protocol standpoint. I totally understand the reluctance. Even though they say young people aren’t getting it, you also have people who have asthma, people who have underlying conditions in their families — they’re going back to their homes with parents who may now be elderly. It’s not like you can isolate yourself from everybody, particularly during a season that’s five months long. . . . I still think we have a long way to go.”
Cautious Optimism Is Warranted
Hopefully, coach Cowher’s take is nothing more than a dud, but even Commissioner Roger Goodell has asserted that the league has to be prepared for anything, even a possible cancellation of the action. Everyone is playing close attention to how things develop across the US and, in particular, the sports leagues that are getting back to business in order to gauge responses. Undoubtedly, how well the NBA does with its bubble games will set the bar for any NFL return in September.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has issued a veiled warning that it would support players should they decide to bench themselves ahead of the upcoming season. JC Tretter, the president of the NFLPA and center for the Cleveland Browns, said in a statement posted to the union’s website, “Any time there is uncertainty, a tough issue or even when we are at odds with the NFL, a few common narratives arise from the media and public.
“Professional athletes in every sport have to regularly fend off criticism that our profession should be considered less of a job and that we shouldn’t fight for protections and benefits. As we begin our fight for necessary COVID-19 protections, these recycled misconceptions will be used to undermine the strength of our union and the legitimacy of your career.”
The message he was delivering, in as political a tone as he could muster, is that the league shouldn’t attempt to mask any health risks in order to get players on the field. The union is ready for any tricks and, if the NFL tries anything funny, it will convince players to stay away. That spells bad news for the league and fans.
Keep Calm And Focus On Football
No one wants the NFL season to be canceled and, as of now, things are still on track for the season to begin. Although some players are feeling “anxious” and “uneasy,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, everyone needs to just take a deep breath and let the pieces fall into place. There is still a little bit of time for the NFL to work out any bugs and, with some luck, sports fans around the world will be able to partake in virtual tailgate parties and Sunday afternoon football binges.