Like it or not, most of the recent NFL news seems to be focused on how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will impact the 2020 season. Nevertheless, it’s important to stay updated on what’s going on around the league.
A Couple of Bucs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the latest NFL team to experience positive coronavirus tests. The team released a statement on Saturday confirming reports that two employees have tested positive but declined to say if they were players or staff.
Of course, Tampa is in Florida, which is quickly becoming the latest epicenter of the disease. The news of another NFL team dealing with the virus comes as MLB is shutting down spring training facilities in both Florida and Arizona after multiple teams had a large volume of players test positive.
The Bucs are now one of roughly 10 NFL teams to have players or staff test positive for COVID-19.
With a few players testing positive, coronavirus cases spiking in some states, and Dr. Anthony Fauci suggesting that football be played in a bubble this fall, the NFL remains optimistic that there will be a season in 2020. However, there is growing concern that the season will take place without fans in attendance.
Sources from inside the NFL are concerned about the high volume of college players testing positive for the virus upon their return to campus. But the league believes transmission on the practice field or during games will be limited, making them optimistic that they’ll be able to play the season.
The NFL expressing an optimistic viewpoint became necessary after the NFL Players Association advised its members on Saturday to avoid working out together. The concern comes after several college programs like Texas and Clemson have reported a cluster of positive cases.
It’s believed that players working out in weight rooms together may have contributed to the virus spreading among teammates. Thus, the NFLPA is telling players to stay clear of one another until training camps get underway in July.
The league and the NFLPA are still working on proper safety protocols for teams to follow during training camp.
Despite optimism for the 2020 season, there is continued concern that the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, between the Steelers and Cowboys won’t be played to kick off the preseason. Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh’s NFLPA rep, is the latest to cast doubt on the game.
Heyward says there’s no reason to expose two teams to an extra game. He’s also not sure if either team will have the mandated 47 days of team activity before the first game.
Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine expressed his concern about his state being ready to host the Hall of Fame Game given the state of the virus in Ohio.
It took a while, but Trent Williams is officially the new left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. Williams was traded to the 49ers on draft day after a public fight with Washington over his contract.
He didn’t play last season after he failed a physical because of the lingering effects of surgery to remove a cancerous growth. However, Williams has passed his physical with the 49ers and restructured his contract, clearing the way for him to play in 2020.