As the start of summer training camps looms ever closer, many people are still worried about what the season could hold for the NFL. A combination of reduced seating capacity, players testing positive for COVID and the league’s potential response to outbreaks has fans and players alike nervous. However, the league is currently pushing ahead with plans for training to kick back off at the end of July, and for the season to begin as scheduled.
While this looms, the question remains: which players have tested positive for the virus? Will they be showing up to play this season? And how, exactly, do you operate a sport like football during a global pandemic? The NFL will need to answer all of these questions and more.
Since the off-season started, some seventy-two players have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Among them, they represent seven of the league’s teams. This means that a significant number of players will likely be sitting out at least the opening of summer training. How exactly the league is going to deal with these players, however, is still unknown.
Von Miller is among one of the bigger names in the league to have tested positive. The same is true for Ezekial Elliot, who has stated that, in spite of his diagnosis, he’s “feeling good”. Another member of the NFL to test positive is Sean Payton, a coach for the New Orleans Saints.
It’s notable that the NFL has released the numbers on players who have tested positive. With only a few weeks before training starts, the NFL Player’s Association is still hammering out the details with the NFL. Issues like how testing protocol will be handled and what happens to players who test positive for the virus are still up in the air. For instance, are players positive for COVID-19 placed on the injured list? How does their diagnosis factor into their pay?
Moreover, there are questions about safety. Will the NFL be strict in enforcing a testing protocol that keeps players and staff safe? Will fans be allowed in the stands? At this time, it’s impossible to know how the league is responding to these issues.
What is known, however, is that the NFL will pull out whatever stops it needs to in order to ensure play continues in the Fall season. After all, football seasons rake in billions of dollars in ad revenue. The NFL isn’t about to leave that money on the table.