The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said the league would need to have widespread coronavirus testing in order to consider reopening the league.
“As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport,” Sills told NFL.com. “Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.”
Several people around the league are more optimistic that the NFL will reopen on time, including Jeff Pash. The league’s general counsel, Pash told reporters that the league’s focus is on a 16-game regular season beginning in September.
NFL exec Jeff Pash says on a conference call “our planning, our expectation is fully directed at playing a full season and starting on schedule. … Just as we did in 2019. Am I certain? I’m not certain I’ll be here tomorrow, but I’m planning on it. That’s what we talked about."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 31, 2020
“I think what was implied there [by Pash] was to say we are not at a point where we are saying that is absolutely not going to happen so we should continue our planning and preparations as if we’re going to be able to do that,” Sills told NFL.com.
Will the NFL be the Next to Fall?
The NFL is the only professional sporting league still able to cling onto their original timetable. However, sporting events are still being canceled, weeks after the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS suspended their seasons.
The Wimbledon organizers announced Wednesday that the event will not be held in 2020. Golf’s oldest major, the Open Championship, has also been cancelled.
Commissioner Goodell is continuing with the NFL draft on April 23-25 under considerably different conditions. In a league memo sent to all 32 teams, Goodell said teams might have to conduct their drafts from a “location outside of your facility.” Saints coach Sean Payton has already announced his team will conduct their draft from Dixie Brewery in New Orleans.
The NFL is working with both Dr. Sills and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its decisions.
“We will make those decisions in consultation with our experts at the time,” Sills said. “That decision will not be made in isolation. The NFL will not be charting a course different than other professional sports, other parts of society — college sports, universities, businesses.”