The NFL has offered to forgo the full 2020 preseason schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to sources close to the situation. The league has also agreed to administer daily COVID-19 tests at the beginning of training camp.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday reported that the NFL is willing to eliminate the four preseason games leading up to the start of the regular season. Earlier this month, the league had shortened the preseason to two games, but the players countered, requesting zero games.
The status of the preseason is one of the last remaining unresolved issues before training camp begins at the end of July. ESPN’s Dianna Russini said the reaction to eliminating the preseason is mixed.
“The reaction to no NFL preseason games is all over the map. A coach I’m texting with just said ‘This just means camp is going to be much harder because we need live game reps. This isn’t all good.’ Meantime, [I’m] getting emojis sent back from players [applauding the idea].”
The NFL also offered players an acclimation period of up to 18 days. This allows players to develop their strength and conditioning prior to padded practices. Previously, a joint NFL-NFLPA health and safety committee had suggested a three-week acclimation period.
Throughout the first two weeks of training camp, the league will provide daily coronavirus tests. If the NFL determines that an extension is warranted, it will adjust protocol, NFL Network’s Judy Battista reported.
The NFL will reduce tests to every other day if the positivity rate reaches 5% or less. Coaches and other team personnel will be included in the results.
Before every day testing goes into effect, the league will test players on the first and fourth days of camp. Players will participate in remote education between test days, before the league implements daily testing. The NFL won’t allow players into team facilities until they produce multiple negative tests.
“Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing, tracing, and treatment protocols to keep our players safe. The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely. It gives us the best chance to play and finish the season,” the NFLPA said in a statement.
The NFLPA secured the high frequency testing after several players voiced their concerns. Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, and Saints’ Drew Brees all shared their reluctance to show up for training camp.
“We need Football! We need sports! And we need hope! The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020,” Drew Brees tweeted Sunday. “It’s that simple. Get it done NFL.”