NFL Teams To Institute "Tiered" COVID-Prevention Plans At Facilities
The NFL is "mandating that each team develop an Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plan that sets forth the team's protocols for containing an outbreak of COVID-19," according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. A memo sent to all teams "mandates that teams divide their organizations into 'tiers' that define where personnel can go and what they can do." The "tiers" are "designed to limit access to restricted areas like the practice and stadium fields, sidelines, locker room and training rooms to essential personnel only." Teams "must assign 'tiers' to all their employees, who wear a 'tiered' photographed credential to spell out their access." Tier 1 will consist of "players, coaches, trainers, physicians and necessary personnel who must have direct access to the players." Tier 2 will consist of "general managers, football operations employees, other assistant coaches, video personnel, security, and other essential personnel who may need to be in close proximity to the players and other Tier 1 individuals who may need to access restricted areas." Only individuals assigned to Tiers 1 and 2 will be "permitted access to restricted areas." Tier 3 will consist of "certain operational personnel, in-house media and broadcast personnel, field manager, transportation providers and individuals who perform essential facility, stadium or event services but do not require close contact with Tier 1 individuals." Teams are required to "create a separate entrance for Tier 1 and 2 members" (ESPN.com, 6/22).
CONFIDENCE IS KEY: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported the NFL "remains highly optimistic that the 2020 season will happen," though "less optimism exists that fans will be present for any of the games." The NFL's optimism "comes in large part from the league’s understanding as to how the virus is most commonly spread." The NFL "believes its players will comply with rules aimed at keeping them from getting the virus, and that transmission on a practice field or during a game will be minimal." The league also "remains very confident, based on the research conducted to date, that players will not be susceptible to a bad outcome, if they catch the virus." In addition, the league "remains confident that rapid-response saliva-based testing will be available before the season begins" (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/20).
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? In Boston, Ben Volin wrote the NFL likely was "none too pleased" with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments last week that said an NFL season would be unlikely without a bubble scenario. A source said that the NFL has been "working diligently on its plans with experts from the CDC, Duke University, and several others, but that Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 'hasn’t engaged at all' with the NFL and hasn’t offered any help or guidance." Volin wrote the statements from the NFL and NFLPA in response to Fauci "make it clear they don’t want to get into a public spat with him, but I would venture that the NFL wants Fauci to talk a little less, and help the league out a little more" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21).
FORWARD FOCUSED: USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes in a week when the NFL had "more public reports of players testing positive for COVID-19 than in any week since the pandemic began," it also has been "evident that the league and the players union are poised for rapid-response in another sense: leadership." Shutting down group workouts for the few weeks before camps open is a "smart move." In this current crisis of the pandemic, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has "rallied his rep to a certain degree," as he has been "deliberate in his actions, seemingly collaborated well enough with the NFLPA and the messaging has been good, all while the scope and variables of the pandemic constantly changes." The "deliberate approach that Goodell is driving seemingly allows for a better chance to reduce the spread when it will really matter in a few weeks" (USA TODAY, 6/22). In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote the NFL has "no concrete plans for coming back to training camp," but "make no mistake, football will be played in the fall." Bedard: "Nothing stops the NFL train, not when there are billions of dollars at [stake] and the league office and owners are so detached from the reality for 98 percent of the country. Just watch" (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 6/20).