- The NFL has already cut the 2020 preseason schedule from four down to two games with additional cuts likely.
- The two sides have already reached agreement on travel related protocol.
- Rookies will begin arriving to training camp this week.
One major area of concern in facilitating the start of NFL training camp appears to be resolved. On Monday, the NFL owners and players association reached agreement on coronavirus testing protocol during camp. The frequency of testing had been perhaps the biggest issue necessary to resolve before players signed off on the official opening of training camp. There are still issues on the table–including the number of preseason games–but they are reportedly minor.
The plan calls for daily coronavirus testing for at least the first two weeks of training camp. After two weeks, the NFL and players association will reconvene and evaluate the situation. If positive tests fall below 5% for players at that point the testing will be reduced to once every other day. At that point, should positive tests exceed the 5% threshold daily testing will resume.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, indicated that since the COVID-19 situation is constantly changing flexibility is needed by the NFL and players:
“There’s no finish line with health and safety and I think these protocols are very much living and breathing documents. Which means they will change as we gain new knowledge about this virus, as we gain new knowledge about transmission, as we gain new knowledge about testing and there are new tests and new techniques that come online. We very much anticipate that these protocols will change.”
Players and owners also agreed that two negative tests will be required for players to move from the first (‘reporting’) phase of training camp to the second phase which includes access to team facilities, normal medical evaluation and fitting for equipment.
Sills also indicated that the goal of the league remains creating the safest environment for players and personnel. As part of this, they’ll be working with local health authorities in the cities that host each team:
“These are complicated issues which involve a lot of factors,” Sills said. “But suffice it to say we very much look at it from a medical and public health standpoint, and we want to make sure that first and foremost we’re creating the safest possible environment for our players, for our coaches and our staff.”
“But that we’re also operating within the safest environment for each one of our clubs’ locations, which means ongoing and regular communication with the public health authorities in those areas.”
Meanwhile, it appears that the latest proposal from the league for the number of preseason games is one game to be played in August.