This led to some major concern as to whether or not the Falcons will still play the Chicago Bears at 1 p.m. on Sunday as scheduled, considering more players will have to be traced and tested.
Update: Early on Sunday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Falcons-Bears game will be played as planned.
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How the NFL Has Prepared for COVID-19
The NFL wasn’t as swift as the NBA, who created a unique bubble in Orlando, Florida, but they finally came to an agreement on how to handle an outbreak during the regular season.
For starters, the league implemented some flexible roster rules this season. If there was an outbreak, teams are allowed to move up to 16 members off the practice squad as little as 90 minutes before kickoff.
Commissioner Roger Goodell also created a committee of outside advisors to assist him with COVID-19 issues. They decided that in the event teams lost multiple players due to a COVID-19 positive result, that they will not automatically be granted a postponed day or cancellation.
The league has not set a definitive minimum number of players that a team must have healthy and available for game days currently.
Football is considered a “next man up” sport, and Atlanta will be expected to move players around in Week 3.
Testing Projected To Be Main Problem
While testing is a necessity for the players’ safety, NBC Sports analyst Peter King brought up the problems outlining testing over the offseason.
Players were supposed to have two negative tests daily before entering the facility to start training camp. It wasn’t so much of a problem then as it is now.
The biggest concern is that testing results could take up to 24 hours and then quarantine takes two weeks minimum, plus another passed test, which King detailed via NBC Sports.
“If the center tests positive on a Friday, and there’s a quarantine period for all of his close contacts … well, if I just came from practice where I’ve been in a huddle with all my offensive teammates, been doing individual drills with all my linemen, then blocking the defensive linemen and linebackers all afternoon, aren’t we talking about 35 guys being close contacts with me?” Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA president J.C. Tretter said, according to King. “And if they’re all in quarantine for the next couple days, what does Sunday’s game look like? You don’t have enough bodies to put on the field to play.”
Well, King is right. The NFL is now having to deal with a few of the problems surrounding testing and we’ll have to see where it goes from here.