NFL chief doctor Allen Sills said Tuesday on a conference call that it appears inevitable that a number of the sport’s team personnel will be infected by the coronavirus.
“We fully well expect that we will have positive cases that arise,” Sills said. “Because we think that this disease will remain endemic in society, it shouldn’t be a surprise that new positive cases arise. Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and prevent spread to any other participants. We’re working very diligently on that, and we’ll have some detailed plans at a later time.”
Tuesday marked the first day that teams could re-open their facilities, if they are permitted to do so under governing state and local regulations. But no players are currently allowed to enter facilities, unless they were already undergoing rehab or therapy that began prior to team facilities being closed. And a possible date of more comprehensive returns is still unclear.
“We are not putting dates on the calendar at this point,” Sills said when asked to put a timeline on when players could return and football activities could resume.
Jeff Pash, the league’s general counsel, added that the league’s goal is to maintain competitive equity amid the pandemic.
“Competitive issues are always important and they always are considered in a way to try to preserve equitable treatment of all 32 clubs,” he said, per the NFL Network. “And certainly, our goal will be to have all 32 clubs operating on a consistent basis.”
But with uncertainty looming over the possibility of playing games without fans, the MMQB’s Albert Breer noted Monday that, “at least a couple teams that are facing the possibility of playing in empty stadiums in the fall would rather do that at home, than play their home games in someone else’s city.”
The NFL released its 2020 schedule on May 7, with the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs currently set to open the season on Thursday, Sept. 10.