With the Detroit Lions closing out their offseason program this week, it’s now just a waiting game to see the fate of the 2020 NFL season. While in Michigan, the spread of the Coronavirus seems to be slowing, it’s not nearly as optimistic in other parts of the nation. At least a half-dozen NFL players have contracted the virus, leaving many skeptical a season could possibly happen just three months from now.
One skeptic is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the current lead of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Fauci recently had a conversation with medical reporter and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta about the plausibility of an NFL season this year.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble—insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day—it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said, according to a Gupta tweet.
According to the NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, the current plan is to test players around three times a week. There have been no reports, however, of the NFL seriously considering isolating their players from the general population. The NBA, on the other hand, will likely have an abbreviated season with players isolated in Orlando, Florida.
However, with larger rosters, more game day personnel, and a full season still to be played, it may not be as practical for the NFL to pursue a similar route.
Still, based on the opinions of many medical experts, it sounds like the NFL needs to be at least considering some alternative, out-of-the-box contingency plans for the upcoming season. Or if things continue to get worse in certain parts of the United State, the NFL may have to prepare for the worst: cancellation.
“If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,” Fauci said.
UPDATE: The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Stills, offered this response to Fauci’s comments: