Safety Has to Be Priority One for the Packers and the NFL

The Green Bay Packers announced earlier this week that there will be no fans allowed at training camp and no fans will be permitted to attend preseason games. None of this comes as a surprise with Covid-19 continuing to surge across most of the country.

This is hardly business as usual. No fans at training camp means an end to some of the best traditions in football like the players riding kids’ bicycles to and from the practice field which symbolizes the closeness between the Packers and their fans.

Training camp is also the only time many fans can get to see the Packers up close and personal. Admission is free and the players are a lot more accessible than they are during the regular season. The informal setting makes things more relaxed and casual. But now this will not be taking place this season either.

The 2020 NFL season has already been like no other in league history and teams haven’t even reported to training camp yet. The NFL Draft was held virtually. OTA’s and minicamps were done virtually by Zoom conference. It was tougher to teams to sign free agents, especially those with injury histories, due to the inability of having potential signees evaluated in person by team doctors.

The league has made a series of isolated announcements that gradually pushed things back. The NFL has stated that fans will not be able to sit in the first 6-8 rows of any stadiums this year for safety reasons. This means no Lambeau Leaps in 2020, another tradition that demonstrates the close connection the Packers fans have with the organization. Instead, the NFL will place ads over those seats to make back some of the revenue they will lose from the reduced number of fans who will be able to attend games.

Here we are less than two weeks from the scheduled start of training camp and the NFL still doesn’t have a plan in place for safety protocols for the season. The players and the owners have yet to finalize any set of rules and safety precautions including testing frequency, to make sure that camps can open and the season can go forward. Negotiations are ongoing.

Right now, some cities have indicated there will be no fans at home game at all this season with Philadelphia making that announcement Tuesday. The Packers have yet to make a similar announcement but a statement by team president Mark Murphy made earlier this month seems to indicate that is a very real possibility unless the coronavirus situation improves drastically in the coming weeks. Packers fans have been given the option to opt out of attenting games this season without losing their season tickets in the future. A recent survey of Packers fans also showed that more than half of them said they wouldn't feel safe attending games this year because of Covid-19.

Obviously, while our country is dealing with the deadliest pandemic we have seen in more than 100 years, the primary concern should be the safety of the players and fans. But at the end of the day, the NFL owners stand to lose a lot of money if games aren’t played and televised, so they will try to find a way to move forward with some kind of schedule for this season.

All of this is strange and difficult for fans. We love our traditions and the joy of tailgating before a game at Lambeau or on the road. We will miss the chance to celebrate a Packers touchdown with 75,000 or so of our best friends.

Hopefully, the league and the players can find a way to play football this season. It would certainly be a welcome distraction for all of us during this difficult time. Sports has traditionally served as a way to bring people together and as something that enhances our lives because it’s an unscripted and exciting form of entertainment.

Right now, we still don’t know whether this will be possible this season. We don’t know if there will be a way to have a huddle safely, let alone to play a game where players collide, sweat and bleed on each other on nearly every single play for three plus hours at a time.

Nobody likes these adjustments that have been made so far. Everybody wants to see fans in the stands and players on the field on opening day this September. But games without fans are better than no games at all. A delayed or shortened season would also be preferable to no games being played. But first and foremost, everybody’s safety must come first.

The 2020 NFL season is already like no other we’ve ever seen before. Soon we will learn just how different it will be or if it will be at all. But we should all take solace in the fact that this will pass and we will eventually be able to return to Family Night, attending training camp, enjoying Lambeau Leaps, tailgating and having another sellout crowd at Lambeau Field for a Packers game.

Those are all fun things that bring us together. But right now, keeping everybody safe and well must be priority one.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (54)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Lare's picture

July 18, 2020 at 12:30 pm

IMO, as long as you have people that refuse to mandate or wear facemasks in public, you will not have any football (college or NFL) in 2020.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 12:47 pm

It does seem to be an obstacle to things getting better. Thanks for the comment, Lare.

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fordguy's picture

July 18, 2020 at 01:35 pm

If you're that upset and worried about people not wearing masks in public then stay home.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 01:38 pm

According to a recent fan survey, more than half of Packers fans are concerned. We shall see what is possible this year under these circumstances. Hopefully, we have football. Thanks for the comment, fordguy.

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Lare's picture

July 18, 2020 at 02:09 pm

It doesn't matter what I think, I'm not upset or worried about it at all. People smoke cigarettes, people drive 90 mph without a seatbelt, I learned a long time ago that you can't fix stupid.

According to DeMaurice Smith of the players union- "But I’ll tell you right now, we’re in a place where very, very simply, what’s good for the country is good for sports. And something as simple as wearing a mask will have probably the most significant impact on that and whether sports return in this country. And that’s not a political statement. That’s a common sense and scientific statement."

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zerotolerance's picture

July 18, 2020 at 02:23 pm

Sorry was meant for another poster.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:00 pm

A perfectly idiotic comment from a.....well you know.
And that is absolutely directed at fordguy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:32 pm

So sayeth the elder from the Flat-Earth Society.

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Bure9620's picture

July 18, 2020 at 10:26 pm

So whatever analysis leads to common sense, let's do the opposite of that........

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DePack's picture

July 18, 2020 at 09:26 pm

masks aren't a cure - social distancing isn't a cure - a vaccine isn't a cure it just builds up your immunity to for the fight! There IS NO CURE for a virus!! Never has been, a piece of cloth is not your savior, sorry, someone had to tell you. so get off the masks will cure all kick and if people don't want to wear them let them if you want to, you do you. I highly doubt the NFL and college will let a season go by, they'll find a way... $$$$ now let's play some football!!

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PatrickGB's picture

July 19, 2020 at 10:52 am

Of course there is no real “cure” for a virus. But immunity is the next best thing. Social distancing and masks are helpful in reducing the spread. So your post implies that it’s best for everyone to get it, deal with all the deaths that will happen, and wait for the next virus to cull the population?

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stockholder's picture

July 18, 2020 at 01:25 pm

Training Camp and admission is Free. How about streaming it over the internet?

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 01:37 pm

Could be a problem because opposing teams would be able to stream it too, but hopefully they can stream portions of it for fans. That would be a welcome addition. Thanks for the comment, stockholder.

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Istanbul's picture

July 18, 2020 at 01:49 pm

Totally agree, Stockholder. It bewilders me that they wouldn't reward fans with this very easy courtesy...not to mention that it just keeps people talking more about the NFL.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 02:18 pm

I'd love to see it Istanbul if they can do it without giving away too much to other teams. Makes my job easier, for sure. Thanks for the comment.

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dobber's picture

July 18, 2020 at 02:57 pm

Usually I prefer to make opponents work for their scouting info rather than handing them video directly.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:07 pm

Depends, dobber, would you put a bow on it? LOL. All kidding aside, yeah, if they stream camp, there would have to be limitations on what goes out. I know NFL Network shows live workouts from each team's camp for a few minutes at a time, so something can be streamed, but not the entire thing. Thanks for commenting.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 18, 2020 at 02:13 pm

Mortality rate for people under 45 is almost zero.

I have a question for the smart people here. The homeless communities don’t practice social distancing, dont wear masks, and aren’t particularly diligent about hand washing. Why aren’t they all sick and dying?

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 02:21 pm

Thanks for commenting, Leatherhead. Haven't seen any statistics discussing the infection rate or the mortality rate among the homeless population.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 18, 2020 at 06:35 pm

factcheck is a joke. This specimen starts with a March 27 report (not a study) with little data and just an inflammatory beginning which is the report's guestimates regarding the homeless. Eventually it gets to a small sample of homeless shelters and suggests that 25% of those tested in 19 shelters were positive for Covid. The problem is that one shelter that tested 408 homeless persons got a whopping 36% positive rate and one in San Francisco tested 196 persons and got an enormous 66% positive percentage. 3 more in Seattle got a 17% positive rate. 12 other shelters in Seattle reported a 5% rate and one large shelter in Atlanta had a 4% rate. There is no way one should extrapolate that to imply that 25% of the homeless have gotten COVID.

Looking at CDC data (again using a limited data set from patients of the Boston Medical Center, Boston's hospital of last resort) destroys the report cited by factcheck. The data shows that 15.4% of those who tested positive for COVID were homeless. Is that a lot? The homeless are concentrated in this area and people with no money are sent to Boston MC. 3.3% of the homeless who had COVID died. There have been 3.81M confirmed cases of COVID in the US and 143K death, or about 3.7% die who caught COVID, a percentage that has been dropping. The 3.3% for the homeless was based on data collected March 1 through May 18. This is a null result. 16.4% of patients were homeless and 15.3% of those who died were homeless. Another null result.

There is no question that the homeless get this disease. I don't see evidence that suggests they have higher mortality rates and I don't see any data at all about what percentage of the homeless catch COVID in the first place.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6927a3.htm#T1_down

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 18, 2020 at 07:03 pm

It leads me to wonder when I read commenters who give their own local officials a good grade, as one recently did here, without any reasoning behind their opinion.

Death per 100K population as of July 17th:

NJ: 176 (1st - worst in the US)
NY: 167
CT 123
MA: 122
DC: 81: (6th - mostly just one big city)
MN: 28 (19th)
FL: 22 (25th in the US - who'd have thunk?)
CA: 19 (28th)
WI: 14 (34th)
TX: 13 (35th)

Link add www stuff: statista.com/statistics/1109011/coronavirus-covid19-death-rates-us-by-state/

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Samson's picture

July 18, 2020 at 07:15 pm

Come on --- Thegreatreynoldo.
You're picking & choosing what you like or those reports (numbers) that support what you believe yourself... No matter what anyone believes concerning the virus numbers, the numbers can be refuted by very reputable sources elsewhere.... That's part of the virus problem.

You're great with football numbers... Stick to football ...The bottom-line virus numbers will show themselves after the virus is history.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 18, 2020 at 07:47 pm

Better research, TGR, than the leftist rag dobber quoted.

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but here you can see a population (the homeless) who don’t follow the protocols and yet they’re not dying like flies

I never thought I’d see the day when so many of my countrymen just accepted what they’re being told without even questioning it. Thoreau’s admonition to Question Authority seems to have been completely forgotten.

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wildbill's picture

July 19, 2020 at 06:32 pm

Oh how dare you throw real facts in the fray.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:03 pm

Well, considering that's a demographic that is the least likely to get tested, how do you know they're not?

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NickPerry's picture

July 19, 2020 at 02:16 am

I think if you dig just a LITTLE, you'll find in cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the rate is much higher for both people getting sick and people dying from the virus.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 19, 2020 at 04:09 am

Yes, it appears to be a density of population issue. The Dist. of Columbia is 1st in density, NJ is 2nd, MA is 5th, CT is 8th, so it is not surprising that those areas have high death rates per 100,000 population (I have a partial list above with a link). NY is 12th in density, but almost half of the population lives in the NYC metro area, so perhaps that accounts for them being 2nd in deaths/100K. Florida is 13th in density but 25 in mortality, which suggests something positive happened there. CA is 19th in density and 28th in mortality. WI (31st in density) and TX (32nd in density) so far come in 34th and 35th in terms of mortality, roughly where a density perspective would suggest. MN is 36th in density but has the 19th highest mortality rate per 100K. Minneapolis/St. Paul has 4M of the state's 5.6M people, so perhaps that explains its high mortality. Hawaii is doing great: 19th in density and best in the nation in mortality/100K.

I did find some data on Boston's homeless. Officially, the 2018 census listed 6,146 people as homeless in Boston. Some homeless advocates suggested that there were more. The CDC noted 447 confirmed COVID cases were homeless in the Boston Medical Center data, which would mean that 7.27% of all homeless people in Boston (at a minimum) have contracted COVID. That is much higher than the general population, by a factor of at least 7. I'd note that 147 of the 447 cases may have come from one homeless shelter in Boston, a hot spot. I have not seen explanations for these hot spots like the nursing home in WA. At any rate, that's an alarming percentage.

If I were to speculate, I'd guess that the low mortality rate might be explained by age. The average homeless person is young, some suggest as young as aged 11. That perhaps offsets the probability that the stereotypical homeless person who considerably older and who has one or more underlying chronic illnesses.

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NickPerry's picture

July 19, 2020 at 11:42 am

I also found a bit on the homeless too TGR... Without going into great detail which IMO would do absolutely nothing after reading some of LH comments, but in LA and in San Francisco the rate is actually very high.

I had an errand to run yesterday and drove through and area which is very close to the Garment District, an area in Los Angeles which has been hit especially hard by the virus. This area is FILLED with homeless and all I could think of is how MANY were already sick and spreading the virus.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 19, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Yes we are seeing that now with the spike in convid-19 cases being admitted to ICU in major urban areas. It should be noted that most major hospitals have reopened their surgical units, so most of those in ICU are folks recovering, not convid-19 cases. The amount of misreporting the data here by the major news nets is shocking, to say the least. The other major factor here is the breakdown inside public health agencies in the major cities listed. Inexperience along with political meddling by public elected officials is the two main causes here. The ugly reality is even in the best case, tools like contact tracing would be unworkable due the size and scope of the population. The only real way to see what is happening is to count the dead...

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

July 19, 2020 at 01:17 pm

Big problem here in west Michigan. Homeless were spreading it early on during the worst time here in Michigan when cases were rising. A lot of effort was made to curb the spread in the homeless population here. So yes, a lot of the homeless were sick and dying. Why in world would you think otherwise??

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ricky's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:04 pm

I thought that quarterback was the be the main priority of any team that wants to win games. You're saying it's safety? Well, the addition of Amos and Savage is a good start, and with some decent backups, they should be fine. But it still seems odd that QB gets short shrift.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:09 pm

LOL. You know you may be on to something there. Thanks for the comment, ricky.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:11 pm

I'm not sure if your comment was serious or sarcastic, but the article is about the safety of fans and players during the Covid-19 outbreak, not the position of safety on a football team, versus other positions.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:15 pm

Yes. My comment was meant to be a joke. I have to try to keep things light sometimes. Always good to hear from you 13TimeChamps.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:19 pm

Sorry, that was directed at Ricky....not you Gil.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:20 pm

Oh, OK. Sorry I chimed in then. Hope you enjoyed the article.

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13TimeChamps's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:25 pm

Yes very much. It's definitely going to be an interesting (weird?) year. I can't even begin to predict how it's going to play out.

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GilMartin's picture

July 18, 2020 at 03:48 pm

Thanks. I don't think anybody can predict it. I just know we will remember this year as "different", that's for sure. Stay safe.

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ricky's picture

July 19, 2020 at 10:48 am

Yes, it was meant to be humorous. Being in lock down mode has made me a bit stir crazy.

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Leatherhead's picture

July 18, 2020 at 08:06 pm

Facts:

US population is 330,000,000
COVID cases 3.1 million

This means less than 1% of the population has contracted the virus.

Of those that did contract it, over half had symptoms so mild that many didn’t even know they were sick.

Over 95% of people who catch the virus survive. If you are not old and sick, you have a minuscule chance of dying.

To this point, 99.6% of Americans have either not gotten sick or have recovered.

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Samson's picture

July 18, 2020 at 08:16 pm

**** yawn ****

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Leatherhead's picture

July 18, 2020 at 08:44 pm

Samson denies Science.

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Bure9620's picture

July 18, 2020 at 10:30 pm

certainly age and underlying comorbidities increase the seriousness, however the newer cases popping up are more and more young people whom can be asymptomatic. They can spread it to others. We simply have not flattened anything like rest of the world has minus Brazil. You are also forgetting ICU capacity. which in many states is now ful.......

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NickPerry's picture

July 19, 2020 at 02:29 am

I don't know where you live but I live in Los Angeles LH. Everyday I watch people become more and more laxed about wearing a mask and/or social distancing. Since these people have become more laxed about doing these few suggestions, the cases of people who have gotten the virus has begun to skyrocket again AND those businesses that had shutdown then reopened have now shutdown...AGAIN.

I don't know about you but I don't want to take a chance, even with a "minuscule chance of dying". I guess I don't understand your argument...at all.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 19, 2020 at 04:38 am

That's fair and all too understandable. The Californian governor didn't have a gun to his head when he partially reopened businesses. California is a one-party state, unlike WI where our governor would have had to work with the opposing party. The president, despite his bluster, does not have a lot of power over stay-at-home orders.

Those who haven't lost any income generally seem to favor extended stay-at-home orders. Those who are going broke have a different view. Life > money makes sense, but I can see the other argument.

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Oppy's picture

July 19, 2020 at 02:50 am

Covid-19 deaths in the US are at 137,000 currently and roughly 1000 more deaths are added each day at this point.

When you consider the US population of about 327 million, it sure looks like an inconsequential number of people, and why should our society as a whole be asked to do anything to ease such an insignificant number, right?

Similar number, 150,000 US citizens die from lung cancer in the US each year. It's not an infectious disease, but It's considered enough of a public health issue that for the last decade in most of the US (longer in many places), smoking in public places has been banned or extremely limited, because one person's right to smoke ends when it affects other peoples' health.

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Lphill's picture

July 19, 2020 at 08:25 am

600 k die a year in the US from cancer alone ,another 600k from heart disease.

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Since'61's picture

July 20, 2020 at 01:04 pm

Leatherhead - the virus has infected slightly over 1% of the total population as of today. However, if the virus remains unchecked it will get to 2%, then 3%, then 5% etc. Therefore the argument that it has only infected 1% is ultimately a specious argument. Also we don’t know the actual % infected because we have not tested 100% of the population. In fact the 3.5 million infected represents 8.8% of the number of people tested to date. That is the number the analysis should be based upon.

However, this is not a numbers game IMO. Because if you or a loved one becomes infected the number is 100% for you and your family.
Beyond that this is a legacy issue. Less than 20 years ago this country united to fight terrorism abroad and to prevent another terrorist attack on US soil after the attacks on 9/11. Attacks that killed nearly 3000 US civilians and nearly 6000 US troops during the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 9000 US deaths due to the threat of terrorism.

Today we face a threat from a virus which has killed over 140,000 American in less than 6 months with many more infections and deaths to come. Yet we cannot unite to mitigate or slow this threat down by wearing a mask. Really!!!??? What number of deaths or percent of population do we need to reach before we realize that actual people with families, lives, etc. are dying?

We should wear the masks not only for ourselves but to prevent from spreading the virus to others. To reduce even if only by one the number of calls our first responders need to answer and be exposed to, to reduce the number of patients our hospitals need to care for.

Do we want to leave a leagacy of not caring or not helping our fellow citizens during a national crisis? Or do we want to leave a legacy of coming together to save lives? For people of my age we were left a legacy of service and sacrifice by the WW2 generation. My generation left a legacy of speaking out against the Vietnam War and speaking Out for Civil Rights. Recently we established a legacy of uniting against terrorism. What legacy do we leave for our future generations if we can’t do something as simple as wearing a mask to help save lives?

LH , you’re sad that we’re not questioning the numbers, well I’m sad that so many Americans have become so selfish and uncaring about death and suffering. Thanks, Since ‘61

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 19, 2020 at 08:08 pm

I knew I shouldn't have read this comments section.

Just wear a damn mask. It's easy and you can take it off at home.

You do not want COVID-19. Trust me. It can really suck.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 19, 2020 at 09:42 pm

Frankly, I'm grateful to Al that he has cut us some slack in discussing convid-19 on this blog. Just keep it civil guys. As to football, I've said this before. The risks are known and can be managed. What this comes down to is the cost of playing this season. To get the players back, the owners will have to err on the side of safety, and that's going to cost. So far the owners either are unwilling or are unable to make the commitment necessary to the player's satisfaction. The players themselves must understand that this virus is another risk factor, just like all the other medical risks they take when they suit up. Yes, the players will want to be paid more to play this season giving the real health risks. Owners must decide if not playing outweighs the loses in TV and various revenue streams for the coming year. After all, this is a billion dollar entertainment industry. For one of the few times, the owners do not have the leverage they would normally have in a negotiation. Can they do a deal. I am not optimistic....

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 19, 2020 at 11:06 pm

"So far the owners either are unwilling or are unable to make the commitment necessary to the player's satisfaction."

That quote is unassailable taken literally, but the tone is interesting. It appears that you put the entire onus on the owners. Me, I don't think a truly safe protocol can be designed, not one that would be meaningful in terms of putting a quality product on the field or allowing for evaluation of talent.

The level of commitment that might be necessary to satisfy the union can be either a reasonable or an unreasonable one. I am at least am open to the notion that the union might be unreasonable about the terms of the protocol.

It would be interesting to see what society as a whole considers reasonable, should certain things come to pass. I suspect hindsight will be the sole lens. I don't think the players are likely to receive more money. One would think that athletes have more risk than the general populace (none of whom get more money for working) but as usual, I'd like to see stats on it, or at least the informed opinion of an expert or two, not that enough is really known about COVID to say too much conclusively. Not sure baseball will provide good data as there is more distancing, but basketball is at least closer in terms of some contact while still having less contact. What I mean is that if you can't play basketball safely you probably can't play football safely.

I agree that the owners have less leverage than usual, but they aren't devoid of it.

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flackcatcher's picture

July 20, 2020 at 05:27 pm

I had a long and involved comment going into detail why I thought the league would try to and fail to play this year.... BUT my daughter's cat decided she needed attention and (sigh) jumped from my lap right on my notebook. The rest, as they say is history. By the way, my wife agrees with you. She called my comment "illogically stupid", in bed, before we went to sleep. What it all comes down to is risk reward. Even with the massive cost it will take to keep a full roster (with coaches and support staff) in the bubble, will that be cheaper than canceling the season and incurring the wrath of various entries whom the league has promised their product to. Contract breach suits are ugly things that no one wants. Nor do we know what penalties the NFL will occur if they cancel this season. So, does that put the players in a stronger position, maybe. It all comes now to what risk both sides are willing to accept. To do that is going to take courage and to honest, a leap of faith from both parties. Something that is in very short supply these days. Like I said, I'm not optimistic...

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