By Oliver Collins
COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the NFL season in general, the NFL draft was held online and broadcast live to ESPN, the entire pre-season was canceled, and many NFL players are choosing to opt out of their contracts. Many rookies have had a difficult time adjusting to the NFL, but it only makes it harder that everything is different. Even NFL veterans are struggling with the requirements set to make sure no outbreaks start in the league.
Many different athletes need the pre season to adjust and get their bodies ready for an NFL season that is fast moving and extremely taxing. Many rookies establish their abilities to be on the roster and coaches get a chance to work new plays into the playbook. This year the entire pre season didn’t take place which means that many different players are forced to condition and sometimes train on their own time. This can create major injury problems. Since in-game situations require 11 people to tackle players, it can be hard for players to simulate that on their own time. In week 1 of the NFL season there were around 20 injuries. It’s crazy to not only know that there is this amount of injuries in a week of football, but week 2 had even more injuries, with over 30.
Saquon Barkley, a running back for the New York Giants, was injured in a play that could sacrifice the rest of his season. The major injuries that have occurred already have led to a lot of criticism of the regulations of training, and practicing throughout the season so far.
Another key factor this year is that players are choosing to opt out of the season to protect their families from COVID-19. A very inspiring decision, many NFL players including Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, are putting their family above themselves and choosing to not play the season with less pay. Devernay-Tardif is a doctor as well as an NFL player said, when asked why he made his decision, “This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally.” It’s surprising that players are willing to take a pay decrease to avoid the risk of contracting the virus, but if you think about it it is the right thing to do.
Despite some players' decisions to remain off the field, many teams do not have the same mindset for safety. Some teams including the Kansas City Chiefs are allowing fans to be in attendance during games. This is very dangerous, and poor made decisions by general managers. Sure they want their fans to be excited and happy to watch games and enjoy their team. But so many different people and businesses have been affected by the global pandemic, there is no reason teams should be taking the risk of spreading the disease throughout their fanbase. Lack of fans in the stands can have a negative effect on the money teams make, however, the truth is that most of the money NFL teams get are from T.V providers. Allowing fans to come to the games is an all around bad situation for both players in the NFL, and the Kansas City community.
So much has already taken place in this young NFL season; players’ opt outs, injuries, and fan’s being authorized to attend games live. It’s strange to think that teams think it’s ok to trust their fans to stay 6 feet apart in the midst of this global pandemic. It seems like this decision is disregarding the concern to keep everyone as safe as possible. How is the commission team for the NFL enforcing fines for not wearing masks on the field but allowing teams to have fans in their stadium during games? Even the preseason was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions, which most definitely had a toll on players' health as well as play calling for teams offenses and special teams. It's scary to think that any outbreak on any team could mean a quick end to the NFL season but that is the world we are currently living in. Let’s just continue to pray that that doesn’t happen.