Sean McVay has not hesitated throughout the offseason to voice his skepticism about the start of training camp and the NFL season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But on a video conference with reporters on Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams coach expressed a growing sense of optimism that the camp and season will progress as planned, even as the pandemic looms.
“I feel a lot better now, having a bit more knowledge and understanding – it’s really about mitigating risk, keeping our ecosystem clear,” McVay said.
McVay previously had doubts about the logistics and seemingly conflicting guidelines that included social distancing while playing contact sport. “We go social distancing, but we play football? McVay asked, rhetorically, in June. “It’s really hard for me to understand all of this. I don’t want to be – I don’t understand. I really do not understand. “
But, as the Rams prepare to enter training camp acclimatization period, McVay said he has a better understanding of NFL safety protocols – which include rigorous testing and social distancing – that have been implemented.
“We’re still going to play football,” McVay said. “I think we have a better understanding of how we apply these risk mitigation practices. I made the comment on social distancing – we’re not going to do this on the ground, but in those meeting contexts when you can do it and you “wear your masks, those are the times we’re going to do it. ”
After an offseason of virtual meetings, the Rams are scheduled to hold their first in-person team meeting on Monday under a tent erected in the parking lot of their team training facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif. More than 80 players and coaches are expected.
McVay said education will prove essential in the Rams’ efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as will personal accountability outside the training center.
“The guys are coming in and realizing that this will be part of how we have a successful season – do the guys manage to do the right thing when it comes to risk mitigation,” McVay said. “We’ve always just talked about dealing with you professionally outside the building for good decision making and now that’s an added element as we navigate through that. ”
McVay said he would not try to regulate how players spend their free time outside of the training facility, but mentioned the recent outbreaks that have started to plague Major League Baseball’s season as examples that NFL players should avoid.
“There is a level of responsibility that the coaches, the players and really everyone in our building will have outside the ecosystem to make sure there is consideration,” said McVay. “It’s not just about what you do here, it’s about understanding how big the ramifications can be if you make bad decisions outside of that who you’re exposed to. “