Giants Preaching Safety for Players, Staff During Bye Week
The NFL bye week is a chance for players to get away from football, unwind, and reconnect with family and friends for whom their demanding schedule doesn't always allow for much time.
But this year's bye, much like just about everything else this season, comes amid unprecedented times thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As cases continue to spike across the country, the NFL, as part of its health and safety protocols, has mandated that players and coaches, who might ordinarily return to their home states for the long weekend, remain in town so that they can continue their daily testing.
Of course, that means that players' families and friends will have to come to them if they want a visit. And while such an occurrence would typically be a welcomed event, the COVID-19 virus has made it somewhat stressful given that the players are having new people introduced to their environments at a time where health officials are recommending the opposite.
Giants head coach Joe Judge, as he has right from the start, continues to preach being smart to his players and assistant coaches with the choices they make.
"It just comes down to we all have to be very conscious of what we do in those few days off, and make the right decisions on where we go and who we’re around," Judge said.
However, the dynamic between players, staff members, and their families is a double-edged sword. The Giants' players and staff are depending just as much on the responsibility of their teammates' family members as vice versa.
In Judge's case, he has a son who is a freshman in high school whose social activities have been limited because of the pandemic.
"There have been a lot of weekends where I haven’t been able to let him just go out and hang out at parties or walk the streets of some of the towns and hang out because, to be honest with you, we have to be conscious of if I let him do that, what am I bringing back into my house, what may I bring back to the team?"
The Giants can only exercise so much control over their players and their families over the long weekend and the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend as well.
The State of New Jersey has issued an incoming travel advisory that all individuals entering New Jersey (regardless of transportation mode) from the states that have reported a significant spread of COVID-19 should quarantine for 14-days after leaving that state.
To remain ahead of the virus, Judge said that testing as offered by the team would be available to visiting family members.
"We can make it available for the players if their families come in to come in and get tested and make sure they’re in the right position," Judge said.
"We just want to make sure that everyone has what they need on the front end. Maybe get their families up here a little bit early, the opportunity to get them tested to make sure everyone is in kind of that same situation of knowing where we’ve been."
When the Giants return to work on Monday, they will face updated NFL safety protocols set to take effect as of Saturday. The intensive protocols were originally introduced October 1 for teams with positive tests or who had been exposed to the virus.
Among the new protocols are holding all meetings virtually unless they secure a pre-approved plan by the league to hold such meetings indoors; the mandatory use of facemasks at all times while at the facility, including on the practice field; limited locker room use; and the prohibiting of team or player gatherings away from the facility.
The Giants currently have one confirmed positive COVID-19 case, that being kicker Graham Gano, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
They also placed punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter on the COVID list, presumably due to having been in close proximity to Gano.