The NFL's Version of Social Distancing Make Training Camps Seem Impossible

Stephen Douglas
Baker Mayfield at training camp.
Baker Mayfield at training camp. / Justin Casterline/Getty Images
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The Athletic has obtained a copy of an NFL memo that lays out some details for COVID-19 precautions at training camps. Like every other league, the NFL is still trying to figure things out, but it appears they will be relying on the honor system and a lot of extra work. Via The Athletic:

"According to guidelines laid out in a joint memo sent by the NFL to teams on Sunday and obtained by The Athletic on Monday, players and essential staff can expect to take a COVID-19 test 48 hours before each team’s reporting date. All players and essential staff will also be screened for COVID-19 antibodies. Players will also have their temperatures taken to check for a fever each day upon arrival at the facility, and they will be required to wear masks while indoors."

The Athletic story has no mention about further regular testing, so it sounds like they could be relying on players to just tell them if they have symptoms other than a fever. Which could be trouble, considering people are competing for jobs.

"Any players or essential employees who test positive will be isolated, and if the individual is experiencing symptoms, he or she will be referred to a designated medical facility in each city. They will also be provided with a thermometer and an oximeter. Teams will be required to conduct a “contact tracing investigation” and will inform any other staff members or players who were in close contact with the infected individual."

The plan will limit how much access employees have to facilities based on how much contact they need to have with players. One group that will have total access is the players. While they'll be playing football in very close quarters, their lockers must be six feet apart which will be very difficult to pull off since there are 90 players in camp and they will require a locker room the size of the runway in Fast & Furious 6. Buffets are gone and meals will come prepackaged and players' chow time will be staggered. Lifting sessions will be limited to 15 people and in-person meetings will be capped at 20.

But the people under the most stress at camp this summer will probably be the equipment staff, who will be in charge of an insane amount of work every day in addition to their usual duties.

"Equipment staffs will be working overtime. The protocols call for helmets, shoulder pads and mouthguards to be cleaned and sanitized after each use, and players will be prohibited from sharing water bottles, spouts or towels. Teams that use artificial turf must disinfect those fields."

It sounds like they'll spend most of their waking hours filling water bottles. The amount of disinfectant they will require each day should cause another nationwide shortage, so I'd make a run to your preferred warehouse club before Hard Knocks starts filming.

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