The NFL schedule just got a little shorter, but not in a way that will impact the regular season. The league has agreed that all preseason games will be canceled, something that players were asking for due to fears and concerns of COVID-19, a source reported to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.  Initially, the plan was to play two preseason games instead of four, as usual, but the NFL made this offer and the players will more than likely agree.

NFL Owners Step Up

The NFL union made a proposal and this includes a period in which players enjoy a longer training camp acclimation. Therefore, players have more time for preparation, they can be in better shape and COVID-19 testing can be applied depending on the needs.  Negotiations need to be approved since the proposal by the NFLPA has not been accepted yet; however, NFL coaches don’t like the idea of scrapping all preseason games because they need their teams to start preparing physically now.

A memo obtained by ESPN says that both sides – players and NFL owners – have agreed on the testing aspects of coronavirus protocols.  The first two weeks of training camp, the test will be applied every day. After that, in case the positive test rate is below 5%, the testing protocol will be applied every other day.

However, if the positive test rate is not below 5%, they will continue with daily testing until the panorama changes. This strict protocol is necessary in order to keep safe all people involved in the NFL.

NFL Coronavirus Testing Starts Preseason

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, says that health and safety protocols are an ongoing work.  These viruses change over time and precautions are always needed.  He added, “This is ongoing work.  There’s no finish line with health and safety, and I think these protocols are living, breathing documents, which means they will change as we get new information.  They will undoubtedly be changing over time, which is what we usually see in medicine.”

When NFL players and employees start arriving at the team facilities preseason, they will be mandated to test negative two times before being permitted inside.  This means that the athlete or staff member shows up on day one, takes the test and goes home.  Then, he or she must wait 72 hours before taking the second test.  If both tests result negative, then he or she will be allowed in the team facility.

Dr. Sills said that the NFL is responsible for the testing and they expect the test results to be available withing 24 hours.  However, he asserts that this arrangement isn’t final, and that everyone has to remain flexible.  “Any decision that we make, whether it’s around testing or screening or treatment or games, we want to make sure that we are in no way having a negative impact on the public health situation.

That is acutely true when you speak about testing.  We have had ongoing and extensive discussions with multiple parties around that issue.  And we have discussed at length with our testing vendor to make sure we’re not having a negative impact on their business,” he stated.

Full Steam Ahead For The NFL Season

These measures must be followed this way because players, coaches and staff are coming from all over the US and even from other regions of the world.  Safety precautions are mandatory in order to avoid virus spread.  Nobody wants to see the 2020 season cancellation.  For that reason, everybody involved in the NFL tournament is expected to cooperate and adhere to these protocols.

The players union is showing support for the measures, but it still wants to see how they’re implemented.  The NFLPA issued a statement yesterday that reads, “Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing and treatment protocols to keep our players safe.  The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely, and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.”