All sports in the United Stats have been halted since the middle of March of this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the main public figures in the U.S. regarding the virus has been Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the top government expert on the virus. With the NFL schedule being released last Thursday, a lot of questions have been raised regarding when will the season start and what should fans, teams and the league as a whole expect.
In speaking with PFT’s Peter King, Fauci laid it out clearly as to how the virus will have an effect in the start of the 2020 NFL season. “The virus will make the decision for us,” Fauci said.
Fauci was very clear that if one player on a 53-man roster test positive for coronavirus, the likelihood is that it has spread to other members of the team and that team will have to be shut down for two weeks and that teams games will be subsequently postponed or canceled. “Because it is likely that if four of them are positive and they’ve been hanging around together, that the other ones that are negative are really positive. So I mean, if you have one outlier [only one player testing positive], I think you might get away. But once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down,” Fauci said. Fauci noted that this could be the norm for the NFL this season.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the NFL this season, is that will fans be allowed to attend games. According to Fauci, there is a possibility that NFL stadiums might not necessarily not have any fans in them for the entire season. “There will be virus out there and you will know your players are negative at the time they step onto the field. You’re not endangering… Also, if the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart. I mean, that’s something that is again feasible depending on the level of infection. I keep getting back to that: It’s going to depend. Like, right now, if you fast forward, and it is now September. The season starts. I say you can’t have a season—it’s impossible.”
Football is arguably the sport with the most physical contact in the United States, that or basketball, Fauci also detailed how that will have an impact on the NFL, saying that sweat would not transfer the virus from one person to another because it is a respiratory virus. “The problem with virus shedding is that if I have it in my nasal pharynx, and it sheds and I wipe my hand against my nose—now it’s on my hand. You see, then I touch my chest or my thigh, then it’s on my chest or my thigh for at least a few hours. Sweat as such won’t transmit it. But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect set up for spreading. I would think that if there is an infected football player on the field, as soon as they hit the next guy, the chances are that they will be shedding virus all over that person.”
Fauci detailed numerous other scenarios as to how the NFL can come and play a season in 2020. One thing is for sure though, given the current landscape of the United States and all of the things that need to fall into place for there to be an NFL season, right now all we as fans can do is wait.