On the same day, the first set of rookies were allowed to report to the team facilities for the 2020 NFL training camp, the league and the NFL Players Association held a meeting to review health and safety protocols, preseason game counts and other arrangements while trying to finish. to start a football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four days later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the parties had agreed on the protocols and that the camps would start as planned. The league and players are “committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating in the Super Bowl,” said Goodell.
On the one hand, the NFL and NFLPA seem to be potentially literally finalizing these protocols at the last minute, absurd, as the coronavirus outbreak reached the United States more than four months ago. But the league and the players work with a moving target.
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At some point, the NFL had time on its side, hoping the status of the virus would progress to the point where the league could advance to the 2020 season without much interruptions. But with COVID-19 cases still emerging in the United States, the league and players battled unforeseen circumstances in late July and struggled to agree on protocols.
We already knew the start dates for NFL training camps and for the regular season – barring more unforeseen changes, of course. Monday’s meeting was successful as it answered our questions about health and safety protocols and the status of preseason games in 2020.
When does the NFL training camp begin in 2020?
- Rookies: 21 July
- Quarterbacks and injured players: July 23
- Veteran players: July 28
The NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams on July 18 to confirm the above reporting data for 2020 NFL training camps and Goodell’s announcement on Friday kept July 28 the last reporting date on that list. The collective bargaining agreement allows teams to open camps to veterans no earlier than 15 days before their first scheduled preseason games. (More on those preseason games later.)
The exceptions to the NFL standard training camp reporting dates are the Leaders and Texans, whose players were allowed to register early because they will play in the regular season opener of 2020 on Thursday, September 10, three days before the Sunday slate of the week 1 games.
It’s worth noting that the CBA gives teams the right to set their own reporting dates if they prefer to report later, but a team that does this risks putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
COVID-19 protocols for NFL training camp
The exact format for 2020 NFL training camps, all of which will be held in teams’ facilities rather than off-site locations, remains undetermined. The NFL had a phone call on Monday afternoon to finalize the health and safety measures prior to the training camp.
The NFLPA insists on a longer-than-normal acclimation period to prepare their bodies for full contact in the electrodes. The NFL-NFLPA Joint Medical Commission proposed a 48-day training camp, including a 21-day acclimation period (strength and conditioning).
The players wanted that, but the league initially was about playing at least one week of preseason games (again, more on this later), a schedule that wouldn’t allow for such a long acclimatization period. This is part of the reason a group of high profile players publicly criticized the NFL’s opposition to the training camp format on July 19.
As regards health and safety protocols in NFL training camps, all 32 teams have submitted infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plans for the season. All 32 plans have been reportedly approved by NFL chief physician Dr. Allen Sills, but for a team of more than 20 people in the facility and thus a training camp, the IDER plan must also be approved by the NFLPA. Which trial is ongoing.
The players wanted daily COVID-19 tests, and the NFL agreed to implement just that. Like the NBA did, the NFL hired BioReference Laboratories to run all of its COVID-19 tests. The company will set up locations across all 32 team facilities to ensure uniform testing protocols throughout the competition.
Players need multiple negative tests before they can be in the building for physical or team activities. That’s a lesson the NFL has learned from other professional leagues: take it easy. Dr. NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills says test results are expected within 24 hours.
– Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
According to King, the NFL can expect BioReference Labs to reverse the COVID-19 test results in about 24 hours, which was part of the reason players insisted on daily tests. There is a lot of interaction between player and coach in a period of 24 hours.
All teams have three “COVID Protocol Coordinators” in their facilities to enforce the rules of IDER plans, and face shields will always be required inside buildings.
King recently gained access to the Vikings facility in Eagan, Minn., To give an example of how NFL teams have been preparing for the players’ arrival. Minnesota has four COVID-19 test tracks and a single access point, complete with temperature controls and plumbing fixtures, installed at its facility. The team has also developed social distance protocols in the locker room, cold / hot tubs, showers, training rooms, meeting rooms and cafeteria.
To help protect players on the pitch, the NFL urges the use of an Oakley-developed mouth shield that snaps onto the face mask. The league reportedly lets players test the mouth shields before deciding to oblige them before 2020.
NFL preseason games
This appears to be the main reason why so many high-profile NFL players were publicly critical of the NFL’s approach to the early 2020 season. The NFL was pushing for a two-week preseason schedule after the out of four at the time. and the players felt that the risks of two senseless matches were not worth it.
In the wake of that pressure, the NFL reportedly offered a zero season preseason on Monday instead of the week’s proposal it had made a day earlier. The NFLPA told its members on Tuesday that there would be no preseason games this year. Goodell’s statement did not address the problem.
Simply put, the players wanted to implement the 48-day training camp schedule proposed by the joint medical committee and move straight to week 1 of the regular season in early September. The NFL wanted at least one preseason game for the money boost, but the players saw it as a non-essential risk to their health. They wanted to save the risks for games that matter.