Of the five major sports leagues in the United States — the National Hockey Association (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), and the NFL — the latter is the only one that has not been directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas the other leagues have had to cancel, postpone, or otherwise shuffle around scheduled games, the NFL has not. That’s because its previous season had concluded before the pandemic hit, and it has months to go before next season begins.
However, the league is in the position of having to consider how, or even if, to carry on its offseason and preseason business while a pandemic is ongoing. And according to the memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 franchises, the league is ready to allow some employees back into team facilities, beginning next Tuesday, May 19.
First and foremost, teams would have to be in compliance with local laws, according to the memo. Additionally, teams would have to abide by protocols put into place by the league’s medical director, issued to the teams back on May 6.
According to the terms in the memo, during the first phase of the reopening process, no more than 50 percent of a team’s payroll, or no more than 75 people — whichever number is lower — may be inside a facility at one time. Teams can send additional people to work at more than one facility, under the same guidelines in effect at each facility.
Coaches are not allowed back into facilities during Phase One. Players may not enter the facilities either, unless they’re being treated for injuries or undergoing rehabilitation. In those cases, coaches directly involved with that specific player’s recovery may be inside the facility, but no other coaches.
Any positive diagnoses of COVID-19 among any employees must be reported to the league immediately. Similarly, teams must promptly report any changes in local law to the league.
Goodell notes that Phase One is being rolled out with a view toward allowing more players and coaches back into the facilities as local laws change in response to the pandemic situation.
“In the meantime, we are continuing to work with the [NFL Players Association] and our medical teams on developing protocols that could permit a certain number of players to return to club facilities as early as next month,” the memo reads.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the NFL has already begun scheduling some games for the upcoming 2020-2021 season, including a Christmas Day matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.