The NFL is already bracing for challenges this season brought on by the coronavirus. While there is confidence for a full 2020 NFL season, the Detroit Lions team physician now fears a second wave of the coronavirus could devastate the NFL.
Lions doctor: Second wave of coronavirus would be ‘incredibly devastating’ for NFL season
In an interview on ESPN’s “The Adam Schefter Podcast”, Detroit Lions team physician Asheesh Bedi cautioned that a second wave of the coronavirus would have a devastating impact on the United States and the NFL’s 2020 season.
“I think it’s a real concern,” Bedi said, via The Adam Schefter Podcast (H/T Detroit Free Press). “And, obviously, that’d be incredibly devastating not just for sports and seasons, but for the economy and so many facets of our life. I think that’s why it’s so critical that our behavior in the upcoming months will have such a critical influence on what we’re seeing in the following months.”
The NFL has been fortunate to avoid significant ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to fortunate timing. The pandemic started during the NFL offseason, but free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft were still held. However, teams were forced to close their facilities in March.
NFL teams have since been allowed to reopen their facilities under specific guidelines created by the league. Under the NFL’s coronavirus plan, clubs are still not allowed to have players or coaches in the building.
However, the NFL schedule will soon force commissioner Roger Goodell to make a decision. Coaches could return to their team’s facilities by the end of next week. However, the NFL Players’ Association hasn’t agreed to a plan that could see all 32 teams hold minicamp in June.
Will a second wave of coronavirus cancel the NFL season?
As of now, many around the NFL are extremely confident football will be played this fall. On Tuesday, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said there will definitely be a 2020 NFL season, but attendance could be limited due to the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic is lessening across the country as more people recover from the virus and there is now a greater supply of testing kits. Many expect things to keep improving into the summer with governors across the United States – including in states like New York, New Jersey and California – easing stay-at-home restrictions and welcoming pro sports back.
However, as Bedi said, the NFL must be careful not to react too quickly to the first wave of the coronavirus ending.
“I think as we start to see things loosen a bit and feeling like that first wave is behind us that we absolutely recognize that we can’t let our guard down,” Bedi said, via The Adam Schefter Podcast.
League officials have considered a plan to postpone the season and starting the 2020 schedule on Oct. 8. If a second wave of the coronavirus hits, though, even a delayed start for the NFL would fall right in line with a second pandemic.
“If that were to happen, and despite all of the safeguards that we have in place, I think that gets back to the need to be able to pivot quickly,” Bedi said, via The Adam Schefter Podcast. “… I think we need to quickly recognize that our priority will always be safety. And if that means that we have to change our workflow, abridge seasons, modify how we’re working through things, that just has to happen.”
The NFL could lose $5 billion in revenue if a full 2020 season is played without fans and the economic fallout would be far greater if games are canceled. But, safety is the bottom line and if that means shortening the schedule or even worse, the NFL will have to do it.