An NFL bubble has been something hotly contested as the league gets set to kick-off its 2020 season, with plenty of people wondering how in the hell these guys are supposed to tackle and block and huddle around each other while still maintaining peace of mind that they aren’t just passing COVID-19 onto one another. It’s why so many players have already opted out, and why there are so many doubts that the NFL season will be played without any hiccups.
Look, I hope I’m wrong, and I hope nothing happens. But, as we’ve seen in baseball, when you give a bunch of pro athletes the freedom to roam the streets and live their everyday lives as they normally would without a global pandemic raging across the country, there will be possible compromises — and, because of that, teams may need to postpone games.
That’s why the idea of an NFL bubble is something the league is reportedly looking into; just not until the postseason begins, according to ESPN.
The NFL will consider possibilities for a postseason bubble that would further protect players, coaches and staff members from the coronavirus during the most important games of the season, executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Wednesday.
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton broached the idea during a recent competition committee meeting, Vincent said. The league has made no commitments, and Vincent said he isn’t sure whether it is something the league can do “legally.” But he reiterated that “all things are on the table” at the moment.
“We didn’t use the term ‘bubble,'” Vincent said, “but that ‘secure environment’ to make sure that there is no risk from the outside as teams start making that [playoff] drive. … We did tell Coach Payton that it was something that both [chief medical officer Allen] Sills and the teams would explore. These are things that we just have to be flexible on.”
Given the success of the NBA bubble — which isolated 22 of the leagues 30 teams in Orlando and has served as a safety zone for the league to resume and (hopefully) complete its season — having an NFL bubble (or “secure environment”) seems like an idea worth exploring. Sure, it doesn’t sound like it’ll happen during the regular season, but, if it can legally be done, the NFL needs to do this to make sure players and coaches are safe from contracting COVID-19 and/or spreading it to family members and friends when at home.
Although the league hasn’t mandated a bubble, per se, it has at least implemented several safety measures to help keep members of teams safe. It includes multiple COVID-19 tests and temperature checks when anyone arrives at a team facility. So far, it has proven to work, so here’s to hoping it stays that way throughout the season. Additionally, at least one team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have a voluntary bubble for players to stay at to stay safe from the virus.
While the practicality of an NFL bubble doesn’t make sense for the regular season given the length (as long as six months), if this damn coronavirus continues to spread like it is, using some sort of safety zone for players to live in during the NFL Playoffs may be the only way to complete the season on time.