Should the recent MLB novel coronavirus outbreaks be a sign for the NFL? MLB decided to cancel two games slated this week because of positive coronavirus tests of players and coaches. The league scratched the Yankees-Phillies and Marlins-O's contests, and many speculate more games will see the same fate. As the New Orleans Saints and other NFL teams prepare to greet their rookies and veterans on Monday and Tuesday, will this be a warning to help or pause the NFL's efforts to reopen football?
The NFLPA released a nine-page report this weekend to share the NFL's agreement on procedures and protocols. It also states, the NFLPA and NFL are "finalizing the language that will reflect the CBA Amendments in a side letter, but we wanted to provide this important summary information as soon as possible given the short time before players begin to report to Training Camp." The agreement allows players to voluntarily opt-out, especially if they have pre-existing conditions, i.e., cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, asthma, hypertension/high blood pressure, and other health conditions where COVID-19 has been especially damaging on patients. The players are required to send a letter within seven days if they choose to opt-out.
COVID-19 has not been controlled via a vaccine nor with social-distancing. It can be argued many have not adhered to most of the medical and legal mandates to protect citizens' health. The sports world's realities will remain valid for every player on an organized team; physical contact with your teammates and opponents will occur. The problem is how the NFL, MLB, NBA, and other entities can control the transmission of the novel coronavirus? The NBA has done adequately established a process of control where the other leagues could pattern their protocols.
Unfortunately, the NFL has too many moving pieces affecting players, coaches, staff, and their respective loved ones and family members. Those outside moving parts in life for players may never totally be controlled by the league.
I feel the NFL missed a window of opportunity. One possibility would have been for the NFL to quarantine players under contract in June. Thus, it could have created a better containment system to allow for isolation and timely treatments. As we witnessed last week, the pressure to reach agreements with the NFLPA seemed contrived and forced. Hence, players spoke out and expressed displeasure with the NFL's pace on the matter.
The Saints will welcome their 2020 class of draftees and veterans to their Metairie, LA headquarters. Has the NFL and NFLPA done enough to ensure professional football will take place in 2020? The next few weeks in the NFL and outside sports world will start to give us those answers.