Six months ago, the following sentence was inconceivable, but here we are.
There should be no NFL football in 2020.
The league seems hellbent on starting the season on time with the league and NFLPA reaching an agreement last week on modifying the collective bargaining agreement for our COVID-19 world, but at this point the NFL is playing itself, its fans and most importantly its players.
One need look no further than the freshly started Major League Baseball season and the news from Monday regarding the Miami Marlins as to why football is a very bad idea right now. On Tuesday morning, the team announced that even more players have tested positive.
Then consider the person in charge of the Minnesota Vikings’ COVID response was himself diagnosed with the virus (along with members of his family) and you can start to see why the NFL should start to feel like they’re being backed into a corner and all this before any large numbers of players have been tested yet.
In short, the league could soon face a moment of reckoning, and God help us if and when it does.
We all agree we could use sports in our lives right now, but at what cost? If the players’ and their families’ safety cannot be guaranteed right now, then there should not be a season. Full stop. To argue otherwise is incredibly selfish.
The NFL can spout off all the reasons they feel they can protect their players but the reality is they can’t.
Here’s a quick science lesson: Think of any photo of players at Lambeau Field lined up for a snap in December. See all that steam coming from the mouths of the linemen? Those are water droplets, and how is the coronavirus most easily spread?
Right now, greed is blinding the NFL. The league can spin this however they want, but it’s the truth. The decision to move forward with the season isn’t based on data or safety, it’s based on a spreadsheet with dollar signs on it.
Fans, in their heart of hearts, must also realize the truth. Right now, there is no feasible way to pull off a full and safe season unless a vaccine is developed and produced quickly. Until that comes, playing football in the middle of a pandemic is a game of Russian roulette and that should give any fan pause.
Finally, thinking the season should be canceled does not mean you’re rooting for the coronavirus. Football has been a part of my life since I was little, and as someone who lives not far from Green Bay, I’m well aware of the impact losing a season would have on countless businesses and I wish things were different. I hope they still are, but the facts are starting to paint a much different picture and as a writer it is my job to react to those facts.
You can’t put a price tag on a player’s life. These are living, breathing human beings with families of their own. If a player, coach, or anyone connected to them contracted COVID-19 while I was banging the table for a season to occur I don’t think I could live with myself.
Think about that next time you go out to a bar or a large social gathering. Think about that next time you throw a tantrum over being asked to wear a mask. We all have to make sacrifices and all those sacrifices are much better options than seeing someone die.
If the season does commence, I will watch but I will be full of fear and concern. I suspect many fans will feel that way, and is that any way to enjoy the game we all love? Maybe the league will somehow beat this, but the odds aren’t in their favor.
Commissioner Goodell, do what is right by your players and not the league’s wallet, because if you have no players, you have no game.
I pray you make the right call.
Kris Burke is a staff writer at Acme Packing Company.