The National Football League announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with its players’ union that will see every player tested for coronavirus daily during the first two weeks of training camp, ESPN reported. Following those two weeks, the frequency of testing will be gradually lowered as certain thresholds are met.
NFL training camps are getting way this week, with rookies from the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans having reported on Monday, and rookies from the remaining teams required to report on Tuesday, followed later by the veteran players.
However, the league and the union had been working out what safety protocols would be in place as the deadline to begin training camp loomed. Now, an agreement has been reached.
Specifically, during the first two weeks of camp, every player will be tested, every day. Following, if five percent or fewer players test positive, then the testing will take place every two days. If at any point during training camp the number of infected players rises above five percent, testing will move back to daily.
Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, noted that players haven’t been confined to a “bubble” during the off-season, and so daily testing, at least at first, could keep a lid on a potential outbreak at training camp.
“We recognize that, as players and coaches and staff come in, they’re going to be coming in from all over the country and in some cases the world. So we want to take a slow approach here,” he said.
Meanwhile, the league and the players’ union continue to try to hammer out other points of the league’s coronavirus response plan, including the length of the preseason. For example, the league has already shortened the preseason to two games from four, while the players’ union continues to angle for no preseason.
Sills noted that testing isn’t going to be the be-all-end-all of the league’s coronavirus response.
“We won’t be able to test our way to safety. The way we conduct ourselves away from the facility, all of those things are going to be really important as we move forward into the season,” he said.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, some players have expressed concern about proceeding with the season. For example, last week Tampa Bay left tackle Donovan Smith publicly expressed doubt about whether or not playing is worth it.
“Risking my health as well as my family’s heath does not seem like a risk worth taking,” he said.