Report: NFL could test players for COVID-19 before, after practices and games

Oct 6, 2019; London, United Kingdom; General overall view of the NFL shield logo at midfield during an NFL International Series game between the Oakland Raiders and the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Bears 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is just a few months away and the league is making plans to bring players back for training camp this summer. Amid growing concern among players regarding their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has some big plans to ensure the health of its personnel.

As some teams begin to explore alternative sites to hold training camp, in the event state guidelines don’t allow them to practice, league officials are discussing their own safety protocols for the summer.

How often could NFL test players for COVID-19?

Because the coronavirus can spread so rapidly and the effects from it can be life-altering and even deadly, many around the NFL are concerned for their safety. But players and coaches know they will eventually need to report for training camp and when they come together, the NFL will need hundreds of COVID-19 test kits.

Early estimates indicated the NFL would need a shocking number of test kits to play out a full season. If recent speculation from a league executive is an indicator of what’s to come, the NFL might need even more tests than initially thought.

A league source suggested to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman that the NFL might need to test players before and after each practice. In the summer, when roster sizes are at 70-plus with 32 teams across the country, that could mean using tens of thousands of tests before the season even starts.

The source also suggested that players might need to be tested before and after each game. Because football is a contact sport with players in close proximity and making contact, the NFL would need to ensure everyone came out of the game without COVID-19 to avoid the virus being spread to an opponent the following week.

NFL could make significant changes to its summer schedule

Every summer, football fans flock to their favorite team’s practice facility to watch training camp. Open practices are something every fan looks forward to finding on the team’s training camp schedule as it offers them a chance to watch their favorite team and get closer to the players than ever before.

Unfortunately, that might not be possible this year. The NFL source speculated that the league could ban the general public from attending any practices this summer, limiting the potential exposure for everyone involved.

Furthermore, the NFL could also cut training camp down a week to reduce the number of practices and hours when players and coaches are together. The league has already been taking steps to prevent in-person contact, requiring teams to temporarily close their facilities and hold virtual meetings.

Everyone in the NFL wants the football season to stay on schedule and for things to all kick off in Week 1 when the Houston Texans face the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the league must be confident it can ensure the safety of all its personnel before anyone takes the field. Otherwise, the NFL could start its regular season on time and then experience a mid-season delay, which the NBA and NHL are still dealing with.