More than half of the 32 NFL teams had no coaching staff at their facilities on Friday, although the league has approved such a return where local authorities allow.
Clubs with coaches at their training complexes included Super Bowl champion Kansas City, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Washington, Denver, Dallas, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. While the entire staff hadn’t returned in many cities, there were head coaches like Andy Reid from the Chiefs, Mike Tomlin from the Steelers, Dan Quinn from the Falcons, Vic Fangio from the Broncos, and three of the new employees: the Browns Kevin Stefanski , Mike McCarthy of the Cowboys and Ron Rivera of the Redskins, who carried a lot of his staff.
After his team’s protest march against inequality and police brutality going from the stadium to the steps of the local sheriff’s department in Jacksonville, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone went to his office, but no other coaches accompanied him.
“We worked pretty much from home this season,” said Packers coach Matt LaFleur, “so I made it completely optional for our employees. If they wanted to come in, they can. It’s great to be back here today, but I leave it to everyone’s discretion whether or not they want to come back to this building. “”
Texan coach Bill O’Brien had discussions about when his staff would join him in the team facility.
Most Bengals coaching staff returned to the facility today, including head coach Zac Taylor. Some coaches traveled back to Cincinnati.
“We are a people business. Whether it’s employees, it’s the players, it’s the fans, it’s the community, everything we’re focusing on is about people,” said Mike Nikolaus, the Browns’ chief human resources officer, on the team’s website.
“We work with university hospitals, we work with what Governor Mike DeWine does, what officials recommend. We do everything we can to have a clean, healthy, purified facility where people can come in and keep working.”
NFL teams have been practicing all off-season duties virtually since Commissioner Roger Goodell closed club facilities in late March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league is slowly reopening those team buildings, with the final step allowing coaching staff to return. Only players who are currently rehabilitating injuries are allowed on the complexes.
Many clubs say they plan to have coaches next week.
Teams that confirm their coaches were not at their location on Friday include the Seahawks, Rams, Raiders, 49ers, Cardinals, Saints, Chargers, Titans, Dolphins, Jets, Giants, Eagles, Lions, Panthers, Vikings, Bears, Ravens, Buccaneers and Colts. The 49ers and Raiders are not allowed in their facilities in the Bay Area. And as the Raiders move to Las Vegas, their Henderson, Nevada complex isn’t ready for them.
The Saints work out protocols to allow coaches to work from team offices or at home, depending on individual circumstances.
The Tampa Bay coaches don’t return to the facility until the week of June 15. Several other teams indicated that their staff would not work from their complexes until July.
“You’ve heard the words ‘it’s liquid’ a thousand times, but it’s smooth,” said Nikolaus. “You get new information every day, so if we can adjust and be ready for phase 1, phase 2, phase 3, with that playbook ready, so when we get that new information, we’re ready to adapt to it. “
The team facilities were closed in March, and the league developed a phasing plan that they had to reopen pending government approval.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would work with each team’s medical staff to run a program of COVID-19 tests for the coaching staff and other football staff “before players return to club facilities.”
It is possible that training camps, which usually open at the end of July, could start earlier if determined to be safe for health. Teams could then recoup some of the lost time in the spring.