Preseason Conflict Reminds NFL in Limbo

Phillip B. Wilson

Throughout this rollercoaster ride of an unusual NFL offseason, one hope has persisted amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

At some point, we hope the NFL has a season.

But in sticking a proverbial finger into the air to see how the winds of change are swirling these days, that opinion can change from one moment to the next. 

The NFL has insisted that a plan is being put in place, that teams will adhere to strict guidelines to ensure safety, and although fans won’t likely be allowed in the stands, the games will go on.

But now the NFL and NFL Players Association can’t agree on preseason.

The NFL canceled the first and last preseason games on Wednesday, a decision that didn’t go over well with the NFLPA, which countered on Thursday with a unanimous union vote to cancel the entire preseason, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The union wants the training camp schedule adjusted to allow players to properly prepare for the regular season, set to begin on Sept. 10.

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith leads a union that has proposed no preseason games in 2020.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith heads a union that is opposed to playing any preseason games in 2020.John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Graziano reported that the union membership’s two-hour call on Thursday included a discussion of various restrictions amid COVID-19, and included the player sentiment questioning why any games should be played if it’s unsafe?

The NFL has announced training camps would begin at team facilities in late July, and sent out guidelines for teams to have protocols to test for COVID-19. Teams are also reportedly going to have smaller rosters, as few as 75 players instead of the usual 90, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

But Coronavirus cases are increasing in various parts of the country, where states have tried to re-open for business. There were 53,301 new cases Wednesday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infectious disease doctors have also warned COVID-19 cases could spike in early September during cold/flu season.

(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 phillipbwilson24@yahoo.com.)

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