NFLPA Medical Director Advises Players Against Group Workouts Amid COVID-19

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 17:  Fullback Alec Ingold (L) and safety Erik Harris of the Las Vegas Raiders work out in a park on June 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Training camp for all NFL teams is scheduled to start on July 28, depending on complications from the coronavirus pandemic. The Raiders plan on hosting their camp in the team's Headquarters/Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center that is nearing completion in Henderson, Nevada, this summer, instead of in Napa, California, amid the continuing spread of COVID-19.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The NFL‘s preseason training camps may be scheduled to begin in mid-July, but many players have taken part in private group workouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Saturday, the medical director of the NFL Players’ Association, Thom Mayer, recommended that no NFL players gather together for private workouts:

NFLPA @NFLPA

A message to players from NFLPA Medical Director, Dr. Thom Mayer: https://t.co/4IGlEBhRr9

That comes in the wake of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announcing Saturday that several employees tested positive for the coronavirus. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that two of those positive cases were players:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Statement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers regarding COVID-19: https://t.co/eMv2AAb8g4

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

At least two Buccaneers’ players now have tested positive for COVID-19, per sources. Earlier this week one Buccaneers’ coach tested positive and two other assistants were quarantined. So add Tampa to the growing list of teams and schools with positive COVID-19 tests.

Other positive tests around the NFL have included a player from the San Francisco 49ers, several players on the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys—including superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott—and Denver Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson. 

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that an NFL season might not happen at all without players quarantined away from the general public.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble—insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day—it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” he said, per Wayne Sterling and Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, responded in a statement that Fauci identified health risks the league was addressing and that the NFL was “developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem.”

“Make no mistake, this is no easy task,” he added. “We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed.”

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