Slowly but surely, the NFL is moving toward a modicum of normalcy.
The league announced in a memo Thursday that, beginning Friday, “coaching staffs may be among the employees” returning to team facilities. Up to this point, only club executives (such as Jerry Jones) and rehabbing players — a maximum of 75 people — were permitted to re-enter their respective headquarters.
The maximum is now 100 employees, so long as a team “received necessary permission from state and local governments to reopen its facility.”
Health precautions stemming from the coronavirus remain strictly in place.
“Coaches and other football staff, particularly those who may be in a higher risk category or who have concerns about their own health conditions, are expected to speak with the club medical staff or personal physician about any special precautions or other accommodations that may be appropriate for their particular circumstances,” the memo reads. “In addition, we will work with club medical staffs to implement a program of COVID-19 testing for the coaching staff and other football personnel prior to players returning to club facilities.”
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For the Cowboys, this grants new head coach Mike McCarthy the ability to finally work on-site at The Star. McCarthy, formerly of the Packers, revealed last month that he’s been “coaching” from his home in Green Bay for the majority of the year.
“I have been with my family the whole time, except for maybe the first 10 days of the pandemic,” he said, via the team’s official website.
The Cowboys were affected by a ruined offseason that saw the cancellation of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp practices, which traditionally are staggered throughout May and June. This was an especially rough break for McCarthy, who not only brought in a spate of new staff but is in the process of installing his playbooks, forced to do so through Zoom video conferencing.
“I think we’ve all been taught a whole different level of patience,” he said. “I’m anxious to get back, frankly. My family is probably anxious for me to get back… It’s time, I know, for me to get back. I spend a lot of time looking into a camera and talking. I am ready to get back and get to work in person.”
Full-squad practices are unlikely to take place until training camp in late July. The NFL previously announced that teams are prohibited from traveling for camp, meaning the Cowboys — bound for Oxnard, Calif. — will instead be forced to stay home in Frisco.
“We are going to be deliberate but also determined,” Jones said last month. “We will keep a close eye on the comfort and care of all of our employees who will be involved in this transition. We are committed to doing that in a smart and safe way that complies with all of the appropriate health and workplace safety standards. We’ll do it the right way.”
The 2020 regular season is tentatively expected to start on time, barring future COVID-19 complications. The Cowboys are slated to open their campaign at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Sept. 13.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL