The Corona Virus, a highly contagious disease that has been sweeping over almost every country in the world. In just the U.S. alone there have been 8.93 million cases and 228 thousand deaths. The Corona Virus has affected things all around the world in a negative way, one of those things being sports. The NHL and NBA were able to make it through their seasons in a well planned and organized bubble, and even the MLB had something planned out in order to decrease the amount of times the teams traveled and the amount of teams and games they played.
The NFL started much later than the other sports leagues, with the NHL and NBA starting almost a full year ago and the MLB, being the most recent, starting in July. The NFL has not decreased the amount of games in a season like the MLB and has also not done bubble-like precautions similar to the NHL and NBA. They have kept a 17 week and 16 games per team season, and even added an extra team to the playoffs. So far, this NFL season has gone somewhat according to plan, as seven weeks have been played, and many more seem as if they are going to come.
This is not to say that there haven’t been some mishaps. A total of 14 games have been rescheduled, and more are likely to be as Corona Virus cases pop up all around the NFL. The most notable outbreak was with the Tennessee Titans, as they in total had 23 cases. They were even caught breaking Covid-19 protocol after a journalist took a picture of them practicing in a local high school after their facility was closed and they were told not to hold any in person team activities.
Just recently the Houston Texans had a positive coronavirus test after their game against the Packers that they lost in a score of 35-20, it was an offensive lineman named Max Scharping. They were forced to close their facility and their game’s status against the Browns is up in the air. Matt LaFleur, the coach of the Green Bay Packers, stated that the Packers are, “good to go” for all he knows.
The latest NFL report on the coronavirus cases stated that there were 42,687 tests and 19 new cases. So far this season there have been 500,000 tests administered to players and personnel since August 1 up through October 24. Compared to other sports like NHL and NBA who have up to around 600 players, the NFL is gigantic with a total of 1696 players and 53 players per team, so it is a lot easier for players to contract the virus in the NFL, especially since they are not able to enforce a bubble.
In the long run these coronavirus cases have led to minor issues, but there have been no major concerns of the season ending or teams breaking protocol. The main issue was earlier in the season when the Tennessee Titans had an outbreak, tried to hold a secret team practice, and were exposed by a reporter. According to an NFL spokesperson, “The Titans were fined $350,000 for failure to fully implement elements of the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols that led to the shutting down of the club’s facility and rescheduling of its games against the Bills and the Steelers.” This may not be the biggest fine, especially not for an NFL team whose value is upwards of 2 billion dollars, but it proves to other teams that the NFL will not tolerate the breaking of protocol and if protocol is broken, there will be consequences.
The commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, has high hopes for his Covid-19 protocols. He stated that both the NFL and their network partners are both, “pleased with where [they] are.”
Goodell made a lot of statements regarding his plans and the possibility of a bubble, but ultimately he felt as if the season was flexible enough and the protocols were good enough to keep the season going.