NFLPA Medical Director: NFL Plans to Test Players for COVID-19 3 Times Per Week

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 12: A Wilson NFL football with New York Jets logo is seen on the field during the first half of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on December 12, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Once players return to their team facilities to continue their offseason preparations, they could be tested for the coronavirus about three times weekly, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Per Pelissero, NFL Players Association medical director Thom Mayer indicated players who test positive for COVID-19 would be isolated and quarantined. Officials remain hopeful that “reliable saliva testing is available before players return to facilities.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported June 3 that players are unlikely to be permitted back until the start of training camp, which opens in mid-July. 

To limit the possible spread of the coronavirus, teams will be confined to their own practice facilities. Some franchises traditionally travel to secondary locations for training camp. Joint practices are prohibited as well.

The NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams outlining certain protocols they’ll be expected to follow for the foreseeable future:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Among the highlights here:

– Locker rooms reconfigured to permit people being 6 feet apart

– Meetings must be conducted virtually when possible

– Helmets, shoulder pads, etc. disinfected after each game

– Masks required except when interfering with “athletic activities” https://t.co/AvNO7Si2Gt

While the purpose for those guidelines is clear, making them a reality could prove tricky. Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh went so far as to call them “humanly impossible,” while San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman questioned how well the NFL can contain the pandemic:

IG: JosinaAnderson @JosinaAnderson

Meanwhile, amid a report today that #Cowboys & #Texans players tested positive for CoVID19 & ongoing NFL measures, #49ers CB Richard Sherman said to me: “In general I think we just need to go out there as best we can & live life. I’m just not sure that we can shield….[Cont.]

IG: JosinaAnderson @JosinaAnderson

[Richard Sherman cont to me] “…players from something that seems inevitable. Just think about how these protocols just keep raising more questions. Are we testing the bus drivers and their families, the flight attendants & the pilots, the hotel staff, the stadium staff…[Cont]

IG: JosinaAnderson @JosinaAnderson

[Sherman Cont.] “…the refs, the refs families, the people that hold the yard-markers 3x a week, you see how deep this goes with contact-tracing? Are you going to fly people in groups of 15 on the plane? Are the young guys not gonna go out all year? I mean this is crazy…[Cont]

IG: JosinaAnderson @JosinaAnderson

4/4 [Richard Sherman cont to me] “….There is no way to implement all of these protocols 1000% safely and make it completely foolproof. We just have to do the best we can carefully and respectfully.” #NFL #CoVID19

States across the United States have slowly begun relaxing pandemic-specific restrictions, which has allowed for sports leagues to begin planning for an incremental return. That has also resulted in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases to begin increasing again, however.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that “several” players from the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans had tested positive for the coronavirus. Rocky Arceneaux, the agent for Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, confirmed to Rapoport the three-time Pro Bowler was among that group.

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