Feedback from the NBA, WNBA, MLS and NWSL in the midst of the COVID pandemic has focused on building a “bubble” environment for their respective leagues.
The NFL plans to play its 2020 season, however, with a normal travel schedule and teams using their home stadiums. This can be a problem, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble – isolated from the community and tested almost every day – it would be very difficult to see how football can be played this fall,” Fauci told CNN on Thursday.
He also expressed pessimism for a full season if a second wave of coronavirus spreads during the fall.
“If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,” he told CNN.
At least two NFL players, safety of the Denver Broncos, Kareem Jackson and the Dallas Cowboys, ball carrier Ezekiel Elliott, have been tested positive for the virus this week. Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an interview with ESPN on Monday, said the league expects players to be positive during the season.
NFL chief medical director Allen Sills responded to Fauci’s comments on Thursday, saying, “Dr. Fauci has identified the significant health and safety issues that we and the NFL Players Association, along with our joint medical advisers, approach to mitigate risks to the health of players and coaches. and other essential personnel. We are developing a comprehensive test program with rapid results and rigorous protocols that call for shared responsibility among all within our football ecosystem. ”
“Make no mistake, this is not an easy task,” said Sills’ statement. “We will make the necessary adjustments to respond to the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as planned with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, staff and participants. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adapt to the virus as needed. “
Meanwhile, management of the NFL Players Association also said it was too early to speculate. Asked this week about his level of optimism about a timely return to action, union president and center of Cleveland Browns JC Tretter told USA TODAY Sports: “I don’t know at this point. Obviously, this is a new emerging virus, so there are consistent updates and new information coming out every day. So, I’ve always tried not to look too far, to focus on two weeks to make sure we’re all ready. “
In college football, programs across the country have reported that players are positive. The University of Texas said on Thursday that 13 players had tested positive or presumed positive for COVID-19.
The NFL has allowed coaches to return to the team’s facilities, but players have not been allowed access unless they rehabilitate injuries.