Crazy Season Will Make Everyone a Contender

Covid 19 precautions create anything-can-happen scenario.

Get ready for what could be the wildest, most wide open NFL season since the replacement players of 1987. One can easily foresee massive absences and mandatory quarantines shaking up rosters and active lists all season long. The Covid 19 precautions may well act as a leveling of the playing field for all teams.

Just getting ready for training camp will be challenge enough for teams like the Packers. NFL protocols include social distance spacing in the locker rooms, distancing in the weight rooms and in the meeting rooms. All meetings of 20 or more have to be virtual. Masks must be worn indoors. All in-person meetings are to be held outdoors. Constant and repetitive testing for all players and staff.

In a recent radio interview, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called the protocols "humanly impossible." Harbaugh went on to say "I'm pretty sure the huddle is not going to be six-feet spaced.....Are guys going to shower one at a time all day? Are guys going to lift weights one at a time all day? These are things the league and the players association need to get a handle on and need to get agreed with some common sense so we can operate in a 13 hour day in training camp".

There is also the question of living quarters during camp.   Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president's advisor on infectious diseases, says the entire NFL needs to isolate itself in a bubble-type environment, similar to what the NBA and MLB are planning.   "Unless players are essentially in a bubble, insulated from the community, and they are tested every day, it would be very hard to see how football would be played this fall"  Fauci said.

In an interview on the Packers website with Larry McCarren, coach Matt LaFleur commented "You've just got to be fluid, you have to be flexible.....there's no use in complaining about it.   You've just got to make the best of the situation."

Yes.   There it is.   LaFleur nailed it.   Flexibility.....that's going to be the key.   You see, this football season it won't be the best team that wins.   It will be the team most able to cope with a parade of policy changes and personnel adjustments.   The NFL will, literally, be making up the rules as they go along.   That's because one giant question has yet to be answered:   What happens when a player tests positive during the season?

That, of course, is inevitable.   We are already hearing reports of players around the league testing positive.   Not a great problem at the moment.   They just lay low and recover.   But what about when the games begin?   Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a hint when he told ESPN "Positive tests are going to happen.   The issue is, can we obviously prevent as many of those from happening, but in addition, treat them quickly, isolate them, and prevent them from directly impacting our player personnel."  

The two words that catch my attention in that statement are "isolate them".

What happens if Aaron Rodgers tests positive?   Does he have to quarantine for ten days?   Even if he shows no symptoms?   What if the entire quarterback room tests positive?   Do the Packers have to bring in some emergency free agent and start him on Sunday with two or three days of practice?

You get the idea.   That kind of development will drastically affect the outcome of games.   And all teams are vulnerable.   You can easily see how the best teams may have to go into games against the worst teams without several of their star players, paving the way for upsets that would never happen under normal circumstances.   According to NFL Network, the league is considering expanding practice squads from 10 to 16, anticipating the need for waves of substitute players when large groups of starters have to sit out.

In other words, there is a decent chance the Packers heroes in 2020 will not come from the ranks of Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams et. al.   Rather their hopes may rest on obscure guys you've never heard of thrust into starting roles they may or may not be ready for.   Depth has never been more important than it will be this season.   We will truly see how well the scouts have done their jobs.   

Then there's the empty stadium factor.   Places like Seattle and Kansas City and Minnesota, where crowds have a reputation for being loud and affecting the game, won't provide their teams with that advantage.   Home teams won't be able to feed off the adrenalin they get from their fans.   How much of a factor will that be?

It all adds up to a wild card season full of surprises and roller coaster rides.   So fasten your seat belt.   This year anything can happen. 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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Comments (21)

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

June 21, 2020 at 08:46 pm

Just wait until they demand all tackling must be done using social distancing.

On a side note I was wondering if season ticket holders are on the hook for tickets they've paid for if the fan(s) determine it's too risky to fly to Green Bay, stay in a motel, and be in the stadium until a vaccine has been tested and approved. There are plenty who are 65 and older who are ticket holders. It that a call by the Packers organization alone or do the fans have an option to return tickets to the Packers organization this season without losing them permanently. I wonder if a reporter has asked these types of questions. Sorry to be off track on the article, but I just don't see an appropriate article.

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Turophile's picture

June 22, 2020 at 01:06 am

It's clear that football needs different rules to those most in the country are currently complying with.

If you try to fit normal precaution rules into football, it just doesn't work. That leaves you with two options.
Either accept a very different (ie lower) standard of precautions for the players than the one that applies generally (which is likely to bring the NFL into conflict with the players association).
Or, don't play football until either there is a vaccine or the level of risk is down to negligible.

Best guess ? The NFL tries to institute some halfway house, with many off-field, meeting-room and practice restrictions with isolation rules for any individual that tests positive coupled with mandatory tests of all players when one on the team tests positive..............and that is in addition to regular testing that should be happening.

As for on-field changes, not much change.

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oceanstrength's picture

June 22, 2020 at 08:32 am

I think Fauci is a charlatan and have from the beginning. Nursing homes, hospitals and homeless shelters are known to be the most dangerous covid places to be, and people with unhealthy hearts and respiratory systems the most at risk. I dont think NFL players and coaches need to worry about anything but their own families and friends. Americans are smart, tough, resourceful, self directed and motivated enough to make decisions without government direction (Or used to be). The handling of this crisis was failed from the beginning and has lead to the worst economic, political, and cultural crisis in our country since the Civil War. For what? To open the doors to destruction of the greatest system ever founded on earth.

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Handsback's picture

June 22, 2020 at 08:47 am

Oceanstrength, is right on several fronts. but today being right doesn't mean people will listen. I don't know if the games will be played or how. IF they are played there is a great chance that a team gets hot and wins the SB/championship that people don't expect. I saw where Cleveland is a good example.
We'll see after the play starts and BS is over what teams are the hungriest.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2020 at 10:22 am

Boy, you hit that nail on the head with your opening statement.

The mortality rate on this for people under 50 is less than the flu. 99% percent survival rate, with the overwhelming number of fatalities being old, sick people. We are overreacting because the media encourages us to overreact. This has as much to do with public health as a pimple on my ass. We are being manipulated and people don’t even want to consider the possibility that’s true.

The people I grew up with were made of sturdier stuff. Bullets at Normandy are scarier than being sick for a few days.

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rajahking's picture

June 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm

I can't imagine being this myopically selfish. 120,000 people dead and you prattle on about "duh media". A pandemic is a pandemic, and its obviously stretched health care capacity in various places around the US to a breaking point. I guess for some its a more fun to chew on MAGA hats and talk to yourself in the mirror, though.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Well, they’ve certainly done your thinking for you.

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fastmoving's picture

June 22, 2020 at 04:07 pm

dont know if you know what thinking means. but good luck if you try it some day.
science, facts and statitics are the enemy of the people.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2020 at 05:11 pm

No, the mob is the enemy of the people. It’s driven by ignorance and fear, And when you figure out who wants you to be afraid then you’ll have a truth to give you some direction.

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fastmoving's picture

June 22, 2020 at 04:02 pm

Since 4 years its all about the media (that may be true for the fox news hate propaganda). Man, who still buys that BS beside the racsist hillbillies. But the most laughable thing is that there was anything better in the "good old times" especially the people.
Like we see today better than ever, the opposite its true. But even my Grandma used to say that every generation gets worse.

Its easy to see how bad the Orange was underreacting and cost us more lifes than any other country in the world.

But you right that the far right wing media manipulated this country into the ground. But you only can do that with stupid, hatefilled people, lile the loooosers base. And they even think they smart because they repeat the dumbest conspiracy theories because they have nothing else.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 22, 2020 at 09:40 am

It's also a ready-made excuse for failure.

Dislike this if you must, but you know it will be used.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2020 at 11:44 am

Why is domestic abuse up ?
Why are suicides up?
Why are violent crimes up.?

Is it the virus, or our response to it that causes these things ?

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 22, 2020 at 02:43 pm

The majority of these horrible events take place largely due or tied to financial distress, however arrived at, before and after Covid-19.

To quote The Godfather 3,

"Finance is a gun, politics is to know when to pull the trigger".

The Politicians have forced people to hold the metaphorical gun (Covid-19) and either point it at themselves or others, then Politicians, especially and by far the majority from the Left, pulled the trigger, which was the shutdown.

The George Floyd death was the 2nd pulling of the trigger that the Left needed, though not directly pulled by them, as the people as a whole were accepting the mandates of the closings and sheltering in agreement, and something the Left cannot allow happening, and only after the Floyd event did the numbers of those mentioned rise. The bigger question is, When will the Left stop it from happening in Left governed Cities. The answer, they won't.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 22, 2020 at 06:08 pm

Didn't take long for the MAGA crowd to rear their ugly head. Were you one of the 1,000,000 plus people who attended the Tulsa rally this weekend? Lol

I thought this was a football site. Go to Fox or OAN to spew your nonsense.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2020 at 05:15 pm

I think it’s predictable that you think one part of the uniparty is the good guys and the other part is the bad guys. Because that’s what the media sells. Reality is it’s bad guys and bad guys.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 22, 2020 at 06:03 pm

" especially and by far the majority from the Left,"

This in no way implied your one Party bad and the other good. It did say that one Party is mostly this and the other mostly not that. There is a difference, if you choose to recognize it. It may not suit your view, but it's true nonetheless.

Not one Republican major city is being ransacked. Only Democrat cities. Why is that. If Democrats had an answer and could make things right and better, how come they haven't after being in control of these cities for 50 years and more. I do blame the GOP for sitting back and letting it get to this point, but the larger blame is on the Democrats and those that keep electing them to do same over and over. SCREW THEM. REAP WHAT THEY SOWED.

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AmiyaTerry's picture

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KatieRoot's picture

July 24, 2020 at 02:02 am

I agree. This will greatly affect the results of the game. But it seems to me now everything will not be the same as before due to the virus. Although there is hope.

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KatieRoot's picture

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hashboy's picture

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