Because of the pandemic’s increasing infectivity and rising cases each day, the NFL is having second thoughts on holding any offseason events and programs.
Because the NFL has just ended, it didn’t need to cancel any season or matches. However, because of the pandemic that’s spreading across the globe like wildfire, they’re also starting to think if pushing through with their planned events is a good idea. According to reports, NFL officials are increasingly growing pessimistic about salvaging any of teams’ offseason programs for players.
‘Our primary concern is to protect the health of the public, players, club and league employees while continuing the essential business of preparing for another exciting season’, said NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy. ‘We continue to plan for offseason programs and training camps. We will be prepared to make any changes necessary if circumstances warrant as led by medical experts and public authorities’.
The NFL was able to hold free agency without any major fuss besides the travel and visit restrictions. These weren’t really interruptions at all since meetings between the players and teams could be done without the person-to-person aspect. The NFL Draft in April will be a televised event only meaning that fans won’t be allowed to attend. The league’s annual meeting was cancelled, and teams’ respective offseason programs could soon follow.
To add to the frustrations of teams, the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) has decided to stop their physical examinations for players due to the growing fears around the coronavirus pandemic. This decision will greatly affect free agents who are yet to undertake their physicals so that they can sign their contracts with their new teams. It also affects a few draft prospects whose health needs to be reassessed and rechecked following the NFL scouting combine held last month.
NFLPS president Dr. Anthony Casolaro said, through a letter, that the suspension will take effect until the health crisis has passed. The letter reads:
‘The Board of Directors of the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) have met by phone and communicated with members of Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) that the NFLPS has agreed to discontinue combine rechecks, free agent physicals and physicals for non-combine players until the health crisis has passed. We believe it is not in the interest of the players nor team medical staff to continue to perform these physicals.
At a time of the most serious pandemic in our lifetime, we believe medical resources should focus on those who are ill or in need of care.
We look forward to examining players when it is appropriate to do so’.
Without these physical exams, players who are still free agents could end up losing their contracts and trades that were once done deals may not push through. Additionally, there are the physical draft applicants who take the tests very seriously. However, the league may find a workaround to this problem soon.
Take for example former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He’s seen as one of the draft’s top prospects. However, he’s recovering from a hip surgery that left him unable to end his collegiate career on a high note. According to reports, even though NFL scouting combine re-checks won’t be given a green light to continue, the player can still update NFL teams about his injury by sending them updated and recent scans of his hip.