Here’s NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter, as received via email on Monday afternoon.
“This week training camps across the country are starting and before we know it, the NFL season will be here. This is always the most optimistic time of year for our fans, and for all 32 teams. In a year that has been extraordinarily difficult for our country and the world, we hope the energy of this moment will provide some much-needed optimism.
“In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, we have navigated the time carefully, thoughtfully. and in partnership with the NFL Players Association with a shared goal of playing a healthy and complete 2020 season. This process has not been easy – COVID-19 will continue to present a major challenge to nearly every area of American life. Football is no exception.
“Every step of the way, our focus has been on the safety of players, coaches, personnel, fans, and our communities. Our planning has followed the lead of medical experts and public health officials, including the CDC, the White House Task Force, governors, and state health officials. As we have developed our 2020 playbook for the return of football, safety continues to be our first priority; that commitment will remain paramount as players return to the field.
“The NFL in 2020 will not look like other years. Players and coaches will be tested for the virus regularly, including every day for a while. Preseason games have been canceled. Everyone in the team environment must follow rigorous health and safety protocols to keep themselves and each other safe. When there is a positive test, strict regulations will be enforced to isolate and care for that individual and to contain the virus before it spreads. Even the sideline will look different. And, state and local health guidelines will help determine whether fans will attend the games. These adjustments are necessary to reduce the risk for everyone involved.
“Thanks to the collaboration of the players and a lot of hard work from our clubs, especially their medical and training staffs, our plans are in place for the 2020 season. Have a look inside the Rams training facility for some of these plans in action.
“Adaptability and flexibility will be needed for the foreseeable future. After all, even the best game plan changes as new challenges arise. This year’s NFL Draft is a good example that embracing change can still deliver the fun and excitement we all crave.
“While this year will forever be defined by a heartbreaking global pandemic and a transformative social justice movement, I am reminded of the tenacious, resilient spirit of our country, the NFL community, and you, the greatest fans in the world. Thank you for your continued support.
Now let’s play football,
(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)