The NFL needs to implement a better return to play plan

August 8th, 2020 in Lions By Bob Heyrman

The NFL season appears to be doomed before it even begins.

It seems as though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is paying no attention to the other professional leagues that have returned to play.  The National Football League was a league in a prime position to focus on what the other professional leagues had in store during the coronavirus crisis.

The NFL had already entered its offseason as COVID-19 raged across the world, ruining our 2020.  The deadly virus put a halt to the NBA, MLB, and NHL.  As the commissioners of each league put a plan in place to return to play, we’ve seen the dumpster fire of a system Rob Manfred and the MLB’s rolled out, but we’ve also witnessed the hugely successful strategy both the NBA and NHL have implemented.

You’d think Goodell would notice the bubble success and try to mirror a similar plan for the NFL this Fall.  Instead, the NFL treks on almost as though there is no World-wide pandemic.  The NFL removed all of their preseason contests allowing teams to prepare better their facilities to host games.  It also prevents players from infecting each other during meaningless football games.  The league gave teams’ the option to either cut their roster down from 90 players to 80 or use a split-squad until August 17th.

Since implementing the ‘bubble’ system, both the NHL and NBA have not had a single player test positive for COVID-19.  Baseball, on the other hand, has seen a plethora of cases and outbreaks within teams.  The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, in particular, have both struggled with the virus.  The Detroit Tigers returned to play last night after having four days off due to the Cardinals outbreak.  These outbreaks just wreak havoc on the leagues’ schedule, something the NFL can ill-afford to have happen.

These ball clubs are struggling to get two-months of baseball in, how does the NFL expect to push their way through a full regular season in the Fall when the so-called ‘second-wave’ of COVID-19 strikes?

If the NFL doesn’t want to shorten the season and create multiple bubbles, I don’t see how the season can take place safely.  Having teams travel from city to city, hotel to hotel each week during a pandemic seems problematic to me.

The test results also remain a cause for concern.  Take Matthew Stafford‘s ‘false-positive’ test, for example, imagine having a super-star caliber player miss a football game only to find out said player’s results had been flawed?  Without accurate testing, how can the NFL expect success?  What happens when a player tests negative, but it’s a ‘false-negative,’ and the player plays a game sweating on other players, breathing, bleeding, and tackling opponents infecting others all game long?

Goodell needs to understand that the constant travel hasn’t worked for the MLB.  The NFL should consider using a shortened season with something like four separate bubbles.  It’s time to come up with a better return to play plan taking the other leagues’ success and lack thereof into consideration.