And so it begins.
The NFL had its first major test this weekend. After weeks of positive COVID-19 test results being minimal, there was a surge in cases across multiple teams, including the Cleveland Browns.
As noted earlier, because of the timing of all the cases and them being at the same lab, the hope is that something happened with the tests and these are just a bunch of false positives. The Chicago Bears were one of those teams, and have indicated that this was the case for their team. Some teams are proceeding with practice (with or without the players in question), while others — like the Browns — are being extra cautious. Cleveland cancelled Sunday’s practice and will meet virtually, while Berea undergoes another thorough cleaning.
I suspect that Cleveland will also have false positives, and will be back to practice on Monday. But think about the date — today is a Sunday. The regular season kicks off just three weeks from today. If all of these false positives had happened then, what does the league do? Postpone the games until Monday while another day of testing is conducted? Play the games as scheduled on Sunday, without all the players who may have had false positive tests? It’s something the league really has to think about and have a plan for. This isn’t like MLB, where teams have the flexibility of scheduling doubleheaders to make up games.
And then, we have the other challenge of allowing fans into stadiums at 15-20% capacity. If teams are going to be able to do this successfully, fans will be required to wear masks. Do you think they actually will? Take a look at this brief video clip from a Chiefs practice at Arrowhead, where fans were permitted in the stadium. Masks were required, but everyone took them off once they got inside. Who is going to enforce this? Ushers? Security?
The Chiefs’ exception to the mask rule at Arrowhead Stadium is not required when actively eating or drinking. If we want football without a potential interruption this season, methinks the below video pan is proof we must do better. https://t.co/wb402aTnYw— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) August 22, 2020
The NBA and MLB haven’t faced these same challenges. The NBA has its bubble, which has worked to perfection. MLB has had some hiccups, but the number of games and ability to catch up via double headers has started to work out. The NFL is not only dealing with larger rosters in a sport where players have closer contact that baseball players, many teams want to have fans in the stadium.
I should state that I am all for the NFL proceeding and trying to have fans — but be prepared for a lot of headlines this season other then the product you see on the field.