The NFL has scheduled a conference call with owners Thursday, and the discussion will include plans to reopen team facilities, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Players not rehabbing injuries have been barred from team headquarters throughout the offseason. As discussion between the NFL and NFLPA regarding the navigation of a season amid the COVID-19 pandemic continues, here is the latest from the coronavirus front:
- Multiple teams are proceeding as if they will report to training camp July 28, which is the scheduled start date for most of the NFL, and that there will be no pre-camp conditioning-type period, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com note (via Twitter). This does not appear set in stone, but the NFLPA is not believed to be on board with an earlier report date. Additionally, a shortened preseason is likely following the late-July reporting date, per the NFL.com duo. A truncated exhibition slate has also been a recent topic.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this week a COVID-19 vaccine surfacing this year is not out of the question. Fauci said he was “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine would be available by the end of 2020 or early in 2021, Steven Nelson of the New York Post writes. Fauci added that vaccine distribution could come around the same time. These developments would obviously be a game-changer as the world grapples with the virus, and sports leagues would benefit immensely from a vaccine being available so soon.
- Although Fauci recommended the NFL reconsider a bubble format — one the league opted against weeks ago — other doctors have pushed back on the idea the league can or should attempt this, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes. While restrictions on players when they are away from team facilities during camp and the regular season are not yet known, multiple experts informed Volin sequestering NFLers for so many months was not exactly feasible.
- Shifting back to the subject of preseason football, the possibility of the Hall of Fame Game not taking place is on the table. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said recently that the game will likely not be played in front of fans and that the Cowboys–Steelers matchup would not take place if it needed to be played at this moment, per Zac Jackson of The Athletic (on Twitter). Cowboys officials have been skeptical for weeks the game will happen, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. The league could well opt to eliminate the early portion of the preseason schedule in an effort to give players more time to re-acclimate after the virtual offseason.