I don’t think anyone would have ever predicted an NFL offseason to look like this one. It’s heartbreaking but in a sense, made a realize never to take sports for granted (not that we all did). But enjoy your next ballpark hotdog a little more and never say no to an overpriced ice-cold beer again, or hold back cheering for your team again.
The Atlanta Falcons’ official Twitter posted a video of the new precautions the Falcons are having to take as they enter the facility…and it feels weird.
One step forward. pic.twitter.com/POvqJGsmSc
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 8, 2020
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NFL Memo Sent to Teams About Facilities Reopening
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a three-tiered system for personnel and their access to parts of each building, the implementation of an Infection Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plan for each team on how to deal with an outbreak of COVID-19, and social distancing requirements.
“We should expect that these protocols will change as medical and scientific knowledge of the disease continues to grow,” wrote commissioner Roger Goodell in the memo. “But we believe, along with the NFLPA, that these protocols offer a sound basis for bringing players back into the facilities and moving forward with our planning for the 2020 season.”
NFLPA president JC Tretter tweeted that players should be “wary of any updates or information about returning to work from the league or your team.”
The “New Norm”
Here’s a look at the new norm for the upcoming season (per Detroit Free Press):
– Players, coaches, trainers and team personnel are to be separated into three tiers, with access to various parts of team facilities limited to only the most essential employees. This includes having a separate entrance for tiered personnel (or a dedicated time when an entrance can be used, if separate entrances aren’t possible).
-All players and club employees with access to restricted areas must undergo daily screening and testing prior to entering the facility. The five-part screening questionnaire includes asking players whether they’ve experienced vomiting or diarrhea in the previous 24 hours.
-Locker rooms must be reconfigured (to the extent possible) to allow players to maintain 6 feet of social distance at all times. Signs will be posted to discourage shaking hands; furniture in common areas will be removed; and extensive cleaning protocols, including of equipment, will take place multiple times a day.
-Teams are to hold virtual meetings whenever possible, and are encouraged to move in-person meetings outdoors and have those attending wear masks. Meetings of 20 or more must be remote unless social distancing measures are in place.
-Workout groups are to be limited to 15 people or fewer, and players are encouraged to wear masks in the weight room. Similarly, trainers are to schedule appointments with players rather than have an open time for tasks such as taping ankles. And new protocols will be in place for eating (disposable utensils) and cleaning (where a two-week supply of some sanitizing materials is required).
When Will Players Return?
Coaches and players haven’t been to their designated facilities since March and the offseason so far has been spent on hundreds of zoom conferences.
Players are protected to be back by the end of June but most probably won’t be until July when camp starts.
However, many Falcons players have been meeting up with each other for private workouts and bonding but it will be interesting to get the entire team together and adapt to the new norm.