Unless the league plans on playing in a bubble like the NBA, the NFL may not be able to take the field this year as planned. That’s the stance Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is taking, who believes that this would be the only possible solution to see NFL football action make its entrance in September as planned.
While the idea may work well for the NBA and its 22 teams in the playoff race, it’s hard to imagine an entire NFL season with all 32 teams playing that way.
Fauci Says NFL Not Ready
Fauci, who is one of only a small handful of individuals to be consistent with his comments on the coronavirus, doesn’t feel that the country will be ready for a full-blown NFL season, even if fans aren’t allowed to attend games. There have been a few areas that have witnessed COVID-19 flare-ups recently, and this has health officials being extra vigilant about a possible widespread epidemic once again.
The NFL has already said that it wasn’t prepared to live inside a bubble, asserting that it isn’t practical, but Fauci disagrees. He let his opinion known through an appearance on CNN, explaining, “Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall. If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”
NFL Officials Still Ready To Move Forward
As knowledgeable as Fauci is, the NFL feels that it will be more than ready, with its increased health screening and other safety measures, to tackle football normally – with the exception of the no-fan rule. The league’s top physician, Dr. Allen Sills, responded to Fauci’s remarks, stating, “Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches and other essential personnel.
“We are developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem. This is based on the collective guidance of public health officials, including the White House task force, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], infectious disease experts, and other sports leagues.”
Dr. Fauci’s Input Taken Into Consideration
The NFL has already created a laundry list of protocols that everyone involved with the league will have to follow. There is still enough time before the start of the regular season to make any necessary adjustments, and much of what the league does will certainly be based on how well the NBA is able to restart its season without any incidents. It will also keep an eye on any changes in the number of infected people in the public realm, and will alter its guidelines based on that.
There’s no doubt that everyone wants football, as well as all sports, to return for a number of reasons. No one can blame the NFL brass for wanting to get things going for economic reasons – it’s a business just like any other. However, the league has much more at stake and much more to lose if it causes any public health issues, and will certainly be watching intently the status of the coronavirus to help guide it in its decision-making process.