Training Camp Off to Positive Start for Seahawks
As proven by the fragile state of Major League Baseball at the moment, COVID-19 isn't going to cease to exist to allow sports to return. It doesn't discriminate. Positive tests will be an inconvenient part of the game plan that all leagues and teams will have to deal with in an attempt to take the field or court in 2020.
This is particularly true for leagues that have opted not to play in a "bubble," or in some cases, simply can't for practicality reasons. The NFL falls under this umbrella, with each of the 32 teams running their own ship with 80 players, a bunch of coaches, and other personnel holding all of the responsibility when it comes to having a complete season.
For at least the first four days of training camp, the Seahawks seem to have the situation under control. At the time of this article, they were one of seven NFL teams yet to report a single positive COVID-19 test and only one player - guard Chance Warmack - had opted out of playing in 2020 so far.
Teams around the league have conducted tests three of the past four days, with all players being required to have a negative test each time to permit entrance into team facilities starting today. Based on results, newcomer Jamal Adams and all of Seattle's players should be able to receive a physical and be fitted for equipment this weekend, which is excellent news out of the gate.
While the Seahawks, like the other 31 teams, have yet to begin a strength and conditioning program leading up to on-field workouts starting in mid-August and MLB's Marlins serve as a not-so-friendly reminder how quickly things can change with this virus, the organization couldn't have asked for much better of a start to a training camp shrouded by uncertainty.
From here on, as linebacker Bobby Wagner told reporters on Wednesday, keeping everyone healthy will boil down to players being disciplined and making smart decisions off the field.
“It’s players being on top of players, understanding that it’s going to take a lot of discipline to get this done, and really being on top of everybody, and really just keep pushing that message forward,” Wagner said. “We’re not going to be able to go and do the things that we do."
As Wagner joked, at least for the Seahawks, night life-related distractions may not be as much of an issue in Seattle. But regardless, everyone will need to be cognizant of their actions when away from the team to help protect their family, teammates, and their teammates' families.
"You know, luckily in Seattle, there’s not really any clubs or things of that nature to go out to, but just understanding like you need to be more conscious of your surroundings, you have to really be mindful of who you trust as far as what are they doing outside of the building.”
For his part, Wagner indicated Seattle's veterans will do everything in their power to communicate with younger players to promote the right behavior. But while he's cautiously optimistic about the NFL being able to have a season, he also knows there will be times where "you’ve got to be by yourself at some point" and they won't be babysitting grown men either.
"I think discipline is gonna be the biggest thing. Understanding we’re not going to be able to do the things that we normally do. And we have to think about not just ourselves, but our families, other people’s families and understand you know if we do something reckless or do something that goes against what we’re trying to do. It doesn’t just affect you and your family affects everybody else so we just got to be really smart about it, understand the task at hand, the challenge at hand.”
Such discussions are being had by every NFL team right now trying to navigate playing a contact sport during a pandemic. Seeing how quickly the Marlins outbreak put MLB's season in peril, it should be a cautionary tale of how rapidly things can go awry and hopefully players will do a better job of maintaining self-discipline as the biggest challenges still await.