Cautious Optimism For NFL Season After Well-Handled Offseason
The NFL is set to begin its season tonight amid the ongoing pandemic because the league has "fought back, making only minor concessions, every step of the way," according to Ryan Dunleavy of the N.Y. POST (9/10). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell wonders, "Can the NFL pull this off?" Bell: "So far, so good. Just look at the stats." The "last thing the NFL needs is for its stadiums to become super-spreader hot spots, although the decisions for the capacities" are "largely out of the league's hands." In proceeding with what the league can control, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL officials, "working in sync with (and in some cases pushed by) the NFL Players Association, have seemingly stayed ahead of the curve with protocols and policies" (USA TODAY, 9/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote it is "easy to criticize the NFL for everything." It is the "bully on the sports block." It also is "fair to take a step back and acknowledge how well the league has handled the COVID-19 offseason" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/9).
UNCERTAINTY AROUND GAMEDAY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton writes the NFL's pandemic protocols have "successfully guided the league through its preseason," but there is "one thing those protocols have yet to experience: gameday" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/10). In Minneapolis, Mark Craig wonders "what will the NFL look like at full speed" after an all-virtual offseason and no preseason games. Craig: "The general consensus is injury-filled and sloppy. Very sloppy" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/10).
A LETTER FROM THE COMMISH: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills write an op-ed for the WASHINGTON POST, noting the league's "eagerness to return in full force has been modulated by our primary concern: the health and safety of players, coaches, staff and the public." The NFL has "worked with players, teams and medical experts to build a comprehensive game plan." The hope is that "transparency about our operations will contribute knowledge and insights that will aid the country's pandemic response." Based on the "single-digit positive covid-19 cases among NFL players and other personnel over the past month of testing," league officials are "cautiously optimistic" about this season. At stadiums, changes behind the scenes "will echo those implemented in training facilities." The on-field action seen on TV "will also look different." Goodell & Sills: "We also know that effort alone cannot control the virus or its effects. There will be speed bumps and perhaps detours along the way" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/10).