NFL hints at a postseason bubble
Unlike the NBA, the NFL has chosen to play their regular-season games outside of a coronavirus-safe bubble. The circumstances are different. There are far more players on an NFL roster than that of an NBA team, making the concept more difficult to realize. And though they’ve been reluctant to acquiesce, it sounds like the NFL could be open to the idea of a postseason bubble.
As part of a Thanksgiving morning appearance on Today, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills was asked about the possibility of the league moving to a bubble in the postseason when significantly fewer teams will be playing. In his response, Stills noted that it is an option on the table:
“[W]e’ve said throughout that all options remain on the table,” Sills said. “We’re going to look at whatever the most appropriate decision is, based on the data and the science. We’ve been in regular communication with those other pro sports leagues. I’ll just say there are some pros and there are some cons. There is some risk and benefits to each model. And right now, we’re doubling down on our intensive protocols for each team. We made some additional protocol changes this week. We have a lot of confidence in those steps, and we’ll be monitoring the data very carefully over the next few weeks to see what makes the most sense come January.”
Several teams around the NFL landscape have been hit hard with coronavirus outbreaks, forcing some players to the reserve COVID-19 list. The Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to face the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving Day, but the game was postponed after an outbreak. At least seven Ravens players have tested positive this week. In September, the Steelers’ game against the Tennessee Titans was postponed to their Week 7 bye due to a coronavirus outbreak among Titans players and staff.
If there is a logistical way to do it, a postseason bubble may be the right option for the NFL. Let’s see if this is the route the league chooses to take.