Game on for the NFL?….with Rob Kriete

Bruce Arians, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, expressed confident optimism this week when addressing the local media around the idea of being able to complete a 16-game season during a global pandemic. Coach spoke about the safety protocols the Bucs have implemented, which include lanyards that alert players and staff when they are within six feet of each other. Arians highlighted the fact that NFL teams spend limited time in cities for away-games, as opposed to MLB that spends three or more days as visiting teams before moving onto another town, making it safer. Bruce also mentioned that he would only be found at his home or the stadium as to distance himself as much as possible socially, but he would remain coaching on the sidelines and not from a secluded box.

I unfortunately, do not share Coach Arians optimism. Will players have the same level of self-control, containing themselves to their homes and workplace? Major League Baseball is struggling to complete games early on in their tournament-like season. Baseball is not a contact sport. The batter, catcher, and umpire share the closest proximity and, therefore, the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Still, even this is limited compared to the tackles and piles of players that will occur on almost every NFL play. The NFL season will be in the hands of the players (pun intended) and their ability to remain Covid-free outside the games, so it doesn’t infiltrate into the games.

If testing can be conducted before every game, in any sport, and done quickly, these professional sports can complete a full season. The testing protocols have already proven to be unreliable in MLB. The NFL, with their seemingly endless coffers, must find a way to test these players often to make it safe for all them and the life of a potential season. As of now, potential Covid-19 patients are struggling to get tested, and schools are about to open nationwide. Available tests need to be prioritized as well before using them to conduct a football or baseball contest.

Our country continues to struggle through this pandemic. We must find ways to meet our community needs before using resources and potential tests on players for a game. I hope we can find a way to meet these needs while testing the players often until we can find a vaccine. Until then, I do not share Coach Arians optimism for a complete NFL season. What do you think?