COVID-19 Concerns Continue To Affect Training Camp Decisions
There will be no preseason games played this summer as a result of new health concerns among the teams and NFLPA, according to media reports. The question that will linger for the foreseeable future: Are all preseason games a thing of the past?
The league has the authority under the current CBA to determine the number of preseason games. During discussions this week with the players union, the league reportedly proposed two preseason games—one home and one away. The reasoning, in part, was to have coaches, players, and staff experience the new COVID-19 health protocols for both home and road games before the start of the regular season.
However, in recent days, media reports state that the league has told the union that 2020 preseason games will be eliminated so that there will be a longer training camp conditioning period.
Some of us remember long, hot training camps that included six preseason (aka exhibition) games either in NFL stadia or neutral sites such as San Antonio, Orlando, and Madison, Wisconsin. The number was reduced to four exhibitions when the regular season was expanded from 14 to 16 games in 1978. The new CBA that was approved last March included the probability of 17 regular-season games as early as 2021. It was expected at that time preseason games would be reduced to three in order to retain a 20-game preseason and regular-season game package—10 home and 10 away. However, that future combination of games remains uncertain while more immediate challenges are addressed by league and team personnel.
Rookies began reporting this week and veterans were due in camp on Tuesday, July 28. Rosters are expected to be reduced from 90 to a maximum of 80 players which will make it more difficult for undrafted rookies and borderline veteran free agents to make their new teams. The only certainty about training camps this COVID-19 summer is that there probably will be uncertainty every day.
We at NFL Alumni hope that our active brothers, coaches, and staff stay safe and healthy in the weeks and months ahead.