The NFL still plans to hold training camps on time beginning in late July, though contingency plans are in place.
Hours after the league canceled the Hall of Fame game that kicks off the preseason, the 32 team owners on Thursday were updated on a variety of issues, many dealing with working through the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably, according to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, the owners were told about plans to fully reopen team facilities for training camp next month.
“The clubs have been advised that training camps are expected to open on the normal schedule,” Pash said. “The dates set forth in the collective bargaining agreement, for most clubs that would be July 28. Obviously they can bring in rookies and certain other players before that.
“The preseason number of games, we’re in active discussions with the players association on those issues, and will continue at that and expect to have some resolution relatively soon and will advise the clubs at that time.”
Earlier Thursday, the league and the Pro Football Hall of Fame canceled the opening preseason game between Dallas and Pittsburgh set for Aug. 6. The hall’s induction ceremonies set for Aug. 8, and for mid-September for a special centennial class, have been moved to August 2021, when the Cowboys and Steelers will play in the game.
Team facilities were closed in late March due to the pandemic and have been reopened to limited personnel. No players other than those rehabilitating injuries are allowed at those facilities.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, stressed that what the general public should be doing during the pandemic is exactly what the league and its players should be doing.
“We remain in very active discussion with the players association on the protocols dealing with testing and screening and treatment, response and travel,” Sills said. “And so we updated the ownership about where we stand with those issues and our approach to that.
“We certainly emphasized through that that testing alone is not going to be sufficient to keep everyone healthy. It’s still vitally important that everyone respect physical distancing, the use of masks when possible and overall good health habits of reporting symptoms and limiting contact with individuals that may be sick not only at the team facility, but away from the team facility.”
Sills also noted that the league and union are looking into the use of personal protective equipment by players. That includes modifications to the helmet that may provide additional risk reduction.
“Obviously we have to think about any potential unintended consequences of that modification. So a lot of work is still being done on that,” he said.