90 NFL players historically flood the practice field in various stages of training, exercises, and practices. While many drills can be designed to maintain adequate distancing between players, many cannot. The line of scrimmage, the area of the football field where offensive linemen crash their bodies into defensive linemen and linebackers, is a minefield of danger for contagious disease transmission.
Los Angeles Rams
Anywhere on the football field where a block, a tackle, pass coverage, or even around the pocket is a hot spot where one player may unknowingly transmit COVID-19 to another player. In fact, even the offensive huddle may be a trouble spot. Is this the year that the NFL adopts the Chip Kelly version of calling the plays with signs, symbols, and headsets? Not to speed up the game, but literally from a health and safety concern?
3, 2, 1, Contact!
There is no way to avoid player contact in an NFL game. But what about training camp? Well, that creates an entire host of hot buttons, After all, the idea of training camp is to simulate game conditions in a controlled learning environment. So while the premise of training camp is to keep players safe and adhere to regulations, it’s virtually impossible to simulate a contact sport in a training environment without . . . contact.
And contact is the one thing that is forbidden in this new COVID-19 culture. While that sounds impossible, imagine the real-world experiences of hockey teams and baseball teams? What happens if an innocent player’s test results are positive for COVID-19? The resulting contact tracing will determine the source, but the obligation to notify and test anyone who may have been exposed will automatically impact a significant number of players on the roster. Who will contract the disease in that scenario will depend heavily upon how rigidly teams enforce restrictions at training camp. It’s not a matter of if that happens, but when.