As NFL teams have independently chosen to close down operations over the past two weeks amid coronavirus concerns, the league as a whole has finally decided to implement a consistent policy. Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly issued a memo to teams on Tuesday, instructing them to close team facilities to non-essential personnel and work remotely for a specified period of time to ensure a level playing field for all organizations.
USA Today’s Mike Jones obtained a copy of the memo, which instructs teams to begin following new league-wide guidelines starting at 6:00 PM local time on Wednesday. Teams must close all club facilities with three notable exceptions:
- Medical and training personnel who are actively providing medical treatment to players
- Security personnel
- IT support personnel and others supporting remote and work-from-home capabilities
Aside from these three categories of people, the facilities will be closed. Goodell noted in the memo that the league will re-evaluate this plan on April 8, two weeks after the order goes into effect, to see if the restrictions can be eased.
One group of individuals hurt most by the closures of team facilities is players who are not receiving medical treatment. Many of these players work out in team facilities, and with few (if any) public gyms or workout facilities open at this point, that will force them to find ways to stay in shape at home instead.
Meanwhile, teams will indeed continue to perform scouting and NFL Draft preparations remotely for at least the next two weeks. That ensures that no private visits with draft prospects will take place during that time period, and even if facilities can open again on or shortly after April 8 — which looks unlikely — that would leave just two weeks before the start of the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23.
For now, the league — like most other industries across the country — is effectively in a stay-at-home mode. Time and the trend of progression of COVID-19 will determine how long it stays that way.