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5 biggest takeaways from Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn’s press conference

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Quinn went over the Lions’ exhaustive safety protocols on Wednesday.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn held a virtual press conference on Wednesday morning. The topic at hand was clear: for the first 20 minutes of the session, Quinn spoke at length about the safety protocols the team has been putting in place over the past four months to get their team facility in Allen Park ready for training camp.

However, towards the end of the conference, Quinn did take some questions from local reporters. Here’s a recap of the biggest takeaways from Wednesday’s session.

We still don’t know if anyone has tested positive or will opt out

Right off the bat, Quinn wanted to make it clear that he didn’t have any updates on some players’ status for the 2020 season.

“We have nothing to report on any positive tests or opt outs this morning,” Quinn said at the very beginning of the Zoom session. “If there’s anything to report on that, it will be later on today.”

That makes sense. Players got their first round of COVID-19 testing on Tuesday and according to a video with team president Rod Wood, results take around 24 hours to come in. Players will have three rounds of testing before they’re able to enter the Lions facility—as early as Saturday

As for opt outs, Quinn said they are still in the educational process with the players, including a virtual meeting between medical professionals and players’ families scheduled for Wednesday night. Even if players reported to camp on Tuesday, they have until Monday, August 3 to opt out, if desired.

Contract tracing will be a huge part of their COVID-19 protocols

If there is an employee—be it a player or anyone else—who tests positive, the Lions have an interesting system in place to make sure all of the people in close quarters with that person will also be quarantined. Quinn showed off a device that looks like a watch that is microchipped to track a player’s proximity to others.

Basically, the device will serve two purposes: make sure certain personnel (they are split into tiers based on their job) don’t intermingle with each other, and to track data on who an infected person may have come into contact with. Quinn said they will rely on the data to make decisions about quarantining players and the data alone.

“If someone tests positive, they go back to the contact tracing data and they see how long those people have been near each other, and it’s really decided for us,” Quinn said. “So, I think that’s why the league went with the Kinexon because it’s going to give you very real data. It’s not going to be club by club deciding who might have to sit out or who has to quarantine. It’s going to be very black and white. It’s going to be in the data.”

Allen Park looks a lot different

From plexiglassed lockers to food no longer served buffet style but ordered through an app, the Lions facility already looks completely different than it did last year.

One of the more drastic changes has been to positional meeting rooms. The quarterback room—usually designed to hold only five or six players—has now been converted into a storage room, because it can’t be inhabited by the quarterbacks safely while maintaining social distancing. Instead, each position group has been moved into a larger room. The offensive line will occupy the normal full team meeting room, while the entirety of the indoor practice field will now serve as the team meeting room.

Educating staff is a huge goal right now

With the NFL’s lack of a bubble, a big key to the success of an NFL this season will be how players and staff react when not in the team building. Quinn and company are doing all they can to teach their employees of the importance of being safe away from work.

“We have to have a lot of trust, we have to have a lot of education and we have to have a lot of mature decision making when people leave the facility,” Quinn said.

Part of that educational process involves consulting and Zoom meetings with medical professionals, like Geehan Suleyman, M.D., an infectious disease specialist from Henry Ford who has aided the team throughout the process.

“We’ve done a bunch of them,” Quinn said. “We’ve done (it with) support staff, we’ve done support staff and coaches’ families separately, we’ve done players and we have a players’ family Zoom call scheduled for I believe either tonight or tomorrow. I believe it’s tonight. It is tonight. 8 o’clock. So our players’ families will have the opportunity to get the same educational materials and ask questions to our medical staff.”

Quinn believes ‘robust’ testing could avoid MLB situation

Major League Baseball suffered a team outbreak less than a week into their season when over a dozen Miami Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19 this week. While Quinn remains concerned about the possibility of that happening in football—especially since there is no bubble—he believes the NFL’s preventative measures may be stronger than they were in baseball.

“The one thing that I do know, the difference between us and the MLB is they only tested twice at the start,” Quinn said. “They’re in a totally different testing protocol than us. I don’t know the specifics of it, so don’t quote me on that, but I know, from what I understand, they did frequent testing at the start for the first couple of days and kind of everybody was okay until they showed symptoms. I think there’s a difference there. I think our testing is a very robust testing program. I think you guys would agree with that.”

MLB testing wasn’t exactly low-intensity. After receiving an initial test before entering the facilities, players were checked for symptoms twice a day. In addition to that, players have been getting tested every other day in season, and all that still couldn’t prevent an outbreak.

Still, Quinn believes the Lions have “a good plan in place for the facility to keep everybody safe.”