NFL submits COVID-19 protocols for training camp, preseason

By Matt Johnson
Aug 8, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; A closeup of the NFL shield on a goal post before the preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

As players make their final preparations before arriving for training camp, the NFL submitted its COVID-19 protocols for the summer and preseason to all 32 of its clubs.

NFL sets COVID-19 protocols for training camp, preseason

NFL training camp is set to begin in a matter of weeks, with veterans scheduled to report on July 28. Things will be very different this summer for players and coaches with the COVID-19 pandemic creating new restrictions and safety guidelines.

After outlining the protocols for teams to reopen their facilities in May, the NFL has slowly moved forward with its schedule by allowing coaches to return. As players get ready to make their returns by the end of July to an environment with strict social distancing guidelines, the NFL is now informing clubs about its specific COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the preseason.

In a memo sent to all 32 teams, the NFL detailed the steps that must be followed in the event a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19.

Close Contact Exposure to SYmptomatic or COVID-19 Positive Individual

  • If someone comes in close contact with someone showing COVID-19 symptoms or a person that tested positive, they must isolate and undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
  • If the PCR test comes back negative and they remain asymptomatic, they can return to the team’s facility. But, their symptoms will be monitored closely and they will undergo daily PCR virus testing for eight days.
  • In the event the person tests positive without symptoms, they will not be able to return until 10 days have passed since the initial positive test OR five days passed since first test and they pass consecutive PCR tests in consecutive days.
  • If the person tests positive with symptoms, they will not be allowed to return for at least 10 days, they must go 72 hours without showing symptoms, their return must be approved by a club physician after consultation with the NFL’s chief medical officer and they meet local regulations.

The NFL also noted it can discipline any employee who fails to follow the league’s safety protocols and players could be at risk of being fined for reckless behavior.

Notably, the league is also making changes to the level of access media members are given to NFL teams during training camp. Among the guidelines, the NFL will not permit any in-person interviews with players for the immediate future.

Will there be NFL preseason games?

The NFL is already taking steps to alter its 2020 schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After minicamps in June were wiped out and with contact practices expected to be limited, the NFL eliminated the first two weeks of preseason games.

However, players are pushing the league to take it a step further. The NFL Players Association’s team representatives unanimously voted to recommend the NFL cancel the entire preseason. The move would eliminate travel and additional contact that could be avoided. However, it’s not known if the NFL is willing to wipe out its entire preseason schedule.