The NFL gave the green light over the weekend for training camps to open in full by the end of the month, with select groups of players — rookies, quarterbacks and injured players — eligible to begin reporting to team facilities this week.
The Chicago Bears’ scheduled reporting date stands as July 28 as the league and representatives from the NFLPA continue to iron out wrinkles in their plans related to COVID-19 health and safety and other financial provisions.
A return to on-field activities and full practices could be nearing. But significant uncertainty lingers as the country continues navigating through the coronavirus pandemic.
In the lead-up to training camp, the Tribune will be tracking developments and providing updates here.
Monday: NFL and NFLPA agree to daily testing for the first two weeks of training camp.
A league source confirmed that the NFL and NFLPA agreed to institute daily COVID-19 testing for the first two weeks of training camp with the possibility of switching to every-other-day testing after that.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero was first to report the news.
Daily testing would remain in place beyond the initial two-week window if the positivity rate for players and other Tier 1 and Tier 2 officials within a team reached 5% or higher.
The league has promised that test results should be available within 24 hours. Initially, players will need two negative tests before they are permitted to enter team facilities or participate in team activities.
In a memo sent to all 32 teams Monday, the league detailed that its “Pre-entry Testing” procedures would require players, coaches and other club employees to take their first two tests 72 hours apart with requirements for self-quarantining at home or at their designated hotel in between those tests.
In a statement Monday evening, the NFLPA said: “Our union has been pushing for the strongest testing and tracing protocols to keep our players safe. The testing protocols we agreed to are one critical factor that will help us return to work safely and gives us the best chance to play and finish the season.”
Sunday: NFL players speak out
A large group of NFL players united on social media with the #WeWantToPlay hashtag, expressing their desires to participate in the upcoming 2020 season but only if pressing health and safety concerns are addressed first.
After the league issued a memo stating training camps could begin on time by the end of this month, a large group of prominent players took to Twitter and Instagram to communicate their ongoing apprehension.
The players have pressed for daily COVID-19 testing and have requested detailed information on what will happen when positive tests arise within a team.
Players also have asked for all preseason games to be canceled this summer to help reduce unnecessary risks of exposure to the coronavirus. (The league has pushed for two preseason games since acknowledging that a full four-game preseason schedule would not be practical.)
Additionally, players are asking for a longer “ramp-up” period to get into proper football shape to alleviate injury risks after an offseason in which all organized team activities and minicamps were canceled. Due to the pandemic, players were not able to train in a traditional fashion this offseason.
The NFLPA is seeking contractual protection for players who test positive for COVID-19 as well as those who opt out of the 2020 season for personal concerns. Furthermore, players hope to have access to their teams’ Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plans, written strategies that must be approved by the league before training camps can begin.
©2020 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.