With the NFL and NFLPA agreeing on financial and safety details to prepare for a 2020 football season on Friday, the Green Bay Packers faced one final hurdle to get players into the building for training camp. As of Monday morning, however, the team has cleared that benchmark, paving the way for players to begin training camp this week.
On Monday, the players union reportedly approved the Packers’ Infections Disease Emergency Response plan, or IDER plan, according to Jim Owczarski. The IDER plan specifies the precautions that the team will take regarding the coronavirus pandemic and what actions would take place should an outbreak occur within the team. The NFLPA has effectively made approving each team’s plan a prerequisite for players to enter team facilities for more than just COVID-19 testing. The Packers’ rookies reportedly reported to Lambeau Field on Thursday, but no football-related activities took place.
Green Bay’s veterans are still currently set to report to camp on Tuesday, July 28th. Now that this plan is approved, expect the team to stick to that time frame. Several players, including new Packer Christian Kirksey, have already indicated that they have arrived in Green Bay to show up on time for camp.
The report of the plan being approved comes shortly after the news of a significant COVID-19 outbreak in North American sports. Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins are seeing a major spread of the coronavirus through the team, with at least 14 members of the organization — including at least 12 players — testing positive in the past few days. In response, MLB has postponed multiple Monday games: the Marlins’ contest against the Baltimore Orioles as well as the game featuring the team Miami played on Sunday, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Baseball is the sport with the closest similarity to the NFL in terms of operations; unlike the NBA, NHL, and MLS, these two leagues elected not to place their teams in explicit “bubbles” in order to isolate the players. The Marlins news underscores the necessity for NFL teams to have concrete plans regarding how to deal with outbreaks of the coronavirus; with rosters more than double the size of baseball’s and more close contact between players, football appears to be at an even higher risk for transmission of the virus between players. Hopefully the Packers’ players and those employed by all NFL teams display a high level of personal responsibility in masking and social distancing, thereby minimizing the chance that these outbreaks take place.
In a league without isolation bubbles, positive tests are all but assured. For now, the players union has deemed the Packers’ plan to deal with them as acceptable, so camp will begin.