On the same day, the first group of newbies 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 finalize health and safety protocols, the number of pre-season games and other arrangements to begin a football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four days later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the sides had agreed on the protocols and the camps would start as planned. The league and players are “determined to play a safe and complete 2020 season that will culminate in the Super Bowl,” said Goodell.
On the one hand, the NFL and NFLPA, which may literally finalize these protocols at the last minute, seem absurd considering that the coronavirus outbreak reached the United States more than four months ago. But the league and players worked with a moving target.
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The NFL had time on its side at a certain time, hoping that the status of the virus would develop to such an extent that the league could continue its 2020 season on time without much interruption. With COVID-19 cases still on the rise in the U.S. at the end of July, the league and players fought against unforeseen circumstances and tried to agree protocols.
We already knew the start dates for the NFL training camps and for the regular season – with the exception of unforeseen changes, of course. The Monday meeting was successful in providing answers to questions about health and safety protocols and the status of the pre-season games in 2020.
NFL training camp dates 2020
Rookies report: 21 JulyExperienced players report: July 28thThe full contact practice begins: August 17th
On July 18, the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams confirming the above registration dates for the 2020 NFL training camp. Goodell’s announcement on Friday ensured that July 28th remained the final reporting date on this list.
However, since the NFL agreed to include such a long period of acclimatization with strength and fitness in the 2020 training camp plan, padded exercises – or what most consider an actual “training camp” – will not begin until August 17th.
The exceptions to the NFL’s standard registration dates for the training camp are the Chiefs and Texans, whose players were allowed to register early because they will be playing games three days before the Sunday start of the first week of the regular 2020 season opener on Thursday, September 10th .
It is worth noting that the CBA gives teams the right to set their own reporting dates if they want to report later. However, a team that does so could face a competitive disadvantage.
COVID-19 protocols for the NFL training camp
The exact format for the 2020 NFL training camps, all of which take place within the teams’ facilities and not outside the site, was determined a few days after the NFL and NFLPA completed health and safety measures.
The NFLPA had pushed for a longer than normal acclimatization period to prepare their bodies for full contact exercises in pads. The NFL-NFLPA Joint Medical Committee proposed a 48-day training camp, including a 21-day acclimatization period (strength and condition).
Most of the players got what they wanted because the fully cushioned exercises start 21 days after the start of the training camp. Below is the full training camp plan that all teams will follow. (Chiefs and Texans dates are three days earlier than the dates.)
July 28th to 31st
COVID-19 tests and virtual meetings
Distribution of physics and equipment
August 3rd to 11th
Gradual start-up phase
August 17 – September 6
Contact integration period (practice)
Regarding 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 were approved by NFL chief physician Dr. All Sills approved. However, for a team to have more than 20 employees in its facility and therefore to open a training camp, its IDER plan must also be approved by the NFLPA. This process is ongoing.
The players wanted daily COVID-19 tests, and the NFL agreed to do just that for at least the first two weeks of the training camp. From August 1, all employees in the NFL will be tested once a day. After two weeks, when the rate of positive tests is below five percent, the tests are postponed to every other day.
Like the NBA, the NFL commissioned BioReference Laboratories to carry out all COVID-19 tests. The company has established locations in all 32 team facilities to ensure uniform test protocols across the country.
Players need to take several negative tests before they can be in the building for physical or team activities. This is a lesson that the NFL has drawn from other pro leagues: slow it down. Dr. Allen Sills, chief medical officer of the NFL, says the test results are expected within 24 hours.
– Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero), July 20, 2020
According to Peter King of NBC Sports, the NFL can expect BioReference Labs to flip the COVID-19 test results in about 24 hours. This is one of the reasons why players insisted on daily tests. There will be many player-trainer interactions within 24 hours.
If a player tests positive, he falls into one of two categories per king:
“If he has symptoms of COVID-19, it must be at least 10 days from the first symptoms and at least 72 hours from the last symptoms. He must test negative and have his return approved by a team doctor in consultation with the league Doctors. “” If he’s asymptomatic, it must be 10 days since his positive test – or five days since the positive test plus two tests that show negative results for him to be able to resume the game. “
The NFL also implements contact tracking to monitor the interactions of those who test positive. As the Viking head sports trainer and infection control officer, Eric Sugerman, explained, people get proximity devices when they enter the facility.
“The contact tracking program we have will be very efficient,” said Sugarman (via ESPN). “There is a company that can oversee that and produce a report in seconds. Suppose we are in training camp in a month and I test and have a positive test. Within minutes I can say who I was in Contact with whatever the threshold is, 15 minutes, etc., and I suspect that any contact tracking program these people will be subjected to more testing. “
All teams have three “COVID protocol coordinators” in their facilities to enforce the rules of the IDER plans, and face coverings are always required in buildings.
King recently gained access to the Vikings facility in Eagan, Minnesota, to provide an example of how the NFL teams had prepared for the players’ arrival. Minnesota installed four COVID-19 test fields and a single entry point with temperature testing and hygiene in its facility. The team also created protocols for social distancing in changing rooms, refrigerators / whirlpools, showers, training rooms, meeting rooms, and a cafeteria.
To protect players on the field, the NFL is pushing for the use of a mouth guard developed by Oakley that attaches to the face mask. Players have tested the mouth shields, but the NFL is not expected to commission them in 2020.
NFL pre-season games
This seems to be the main reason why so many high profile NFL players publicly criticized the NFL approach at the start of the 2020 season. The then NFL pushed for a two-week pre-season plan after cutting it out of four, and players felt the risks associated with two meaningless games weren’t worth the effort.
As a result of this pressure, the NFL offered a pre-season pre-season schedule rather than the week-long proposal it made the day before. The NFLPA informed its members that there would be no pre-season games this year.
Goodell later confirmed that the preparatory games for 2020 had been canceled.
Simply put, the players wanted to implement the 48-day training camp plan proposed by the joint medical committee and jump right into the first week of the regular season in early September. The NFL wanted at least one pre-season cash boost game, but the players saw it as not a major health risk. They wanted to save the risks for important games.