It felt good to tweet this last night:
Sure is! https://t.co/G3dyKUTCFC
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) July 31, 2020
Unfortunately, that feeling lasted all of about 13 hours.
That’s because MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals became the latest team to show positive COVID tests, news that comes days after the Miami Marlins outbreak (which reportedly reached up to 18 players) during a week where as many as 30 games have been postponed. Indeed, tonight’s Cardinals-Brewers game has been postponed and is tentatively scheduled to be played as a double-header on Sunday. But even with many (seven-inning) twin-bills expected in the future, MLB’s situation isn’t looking pretty, which has me looking to the NFL in search of some direction.
Dr. Allen Sills – the NFL’s chief medical officer – still believes in the league’s plan to complete a season in the middle of this pandemic. Sills acknowledges the challenges ahead, but believes in the protocols put in place to keep players, coaches, and others safe.
“I remain cautiously optimistic because we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and energy with these protocols and preparing, tryin got mitigate risk to the best we can,” Sills said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “At the same time, we have to realize that this is going to be hard. This is going to be really hard because this is a tough opponent. This virus is a highly contagious virus and it remained very endemic across our country.
It’s going to be a real challenge for us at every level of the league, but our teams are very committed to this. I know our players are very invested, as are all of our coaches and staff. We’re all going to put our very best foot forward to try to mitigate risk and see if we can carry forward and coexist with a virus. As much as we’d like it to go away, I think it’s clear that it’s unlikely to be eradicated at any time in the very near future.”
We, as a collective, need to stop talking about COVID-19 as if it was an opponent you’d schedule for homecoming to run circles around. Secondly, we need to stop talking about combating it as if it were part of a game. Thirdly, commitment, investment, and trying hard will go only so far. I don’t want to downplay how much time and energy was spent on putting protocols into place. But doing so while seemingly ignoring how well Bubble systems have worked (to this point) for the NBA and NHL essentially spits in the face of the hard work you’re doing to try to get off a football season in the most “normal” way possible. Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand why the NFL wants to go full-steam-ahead with its plan. And I can imagine the many hurdles it would take to implement a proper system of Bubbles to copycat what other leagues have done. But reality is staring football in the face. And rather than grapple with that by following guidelines set by others who came before them, the powers that be in the NFL would rather do things their way. Maybe it will work, but ultimately, it feels like a risky endeavor.
I stand firm with what I wrote in Monday’s Bullets in that I have ultimately come to the conclusion that the 2020 NFL season should be played in a set of Bubbles. Yes, Bubbles. Plural. We’re talking about 32 teams, (at least) 53 players per squad, and any number of coaches, trainers, staff members, and officials. A singular Bubble likely isn’t feasible or realistic. Regional Bubbles can be, especially if given the time and resources to properly plan for them.
Nothing has changed since Monday that would sway my opinion in a different direction. And that’s unfortunate, because it means things aren’t getting any better. Therefore, I maintain that the NFL should explore alternatives in case its current plans can’t go forward as scheduled. Until then, what we’re seeing with MLB is a real possibility for the NFL in the not-too-distant future.