NFL, NFLPA Still Not Agreed on Training Camp Start Date
Jason B. Hirschhorn
One month ago, the NFL set July 28 as the date on which players would report to training camp for the vast majority of teams. Since then, the league has officially canceled the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and wants to further reduce the preseason to just Weeks 2 and 3.
All of those plans appear on hold given the surging COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report from ESPN's Dianna Russini, the NFL and NFLPA have yet to agree on reporting dates for training camp or even when players will receive testing for the virus ahead of time.
While the lack of agreement doesn't necessarily mean that training camps will not begin on July 28, the fact that the two sides have not even come to terms with basic necessities such as testing does not bode well for the current schedule. Less than three weeks remain before the league wants camp to start, and testing protocols will require multiple layers of planning to fully implement. Not only will players and coaches need to receive screening, but so will any club personnel or media that will step foot onto the team facilities.
The league and players union have butted heads throughout the offseason over issues related to the pandemic. The usual 90-man rosters reportedly could see significant reductions and the level of access given to reporters has also become a hot-button topic. And while the league wants to keep two weeks of its preseason games, the union prefers to cancel all of them instead.
Given all those issues, even the start of the regular season, already later than usual, could likewise come into question. That scenario is one all sides would prefer to avoid given what it could mean for the probability of playing a full season and, by consequence, earning the maximum amount of money.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH