What an NFL season will look like in 2020 is still up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic; but a picture of how training camp might begin could be forming.
Conditions in states like Washington, California and New York especially seem to indicate that gatherings of the size required for an NFL training camp still won’t be permitted by the time training camp usually gets going in late July.
“Counting 90 players, the coaching staff, scouts, doctors, trainers, strength staff, cafeteria staff, etc., if you cut away everything else, you may be able to run a camp with 150 people onsite. And the fact is, that’s a number that’s a still a ways off from being allowable in some corners of the country,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote.
The camp relocation efforts are part of a greater plan to hopefully start the regular season start on time.
What makes a good destination for an NFL training camp?
A traditional camp isn’t just a run-of-the mill practice facility with just a field and weigh/training rooms. Most franchises pick up their players, coaches and training staff from their homes and send them to new location where they’ll live for the duration of camp.
There’s one type of place in particular team’s like to use: college campuses. The Carolina Panthers have a long standing tradition of having camp at Wofford College; while the Los Angeles Rams spent their 2019 camp at the University of California, Irvine.
Colleges have the perfect combination of high-end football facilities with on-site lodging often available; and schools in states with lower rates of COVID-19 will likely emerge a top choices for the dislodged teams.
Unfortunately in these unprecedented times; it seems unlikely colleges would welcome upwards of 100 personnel from high-exposure locations to their campuses even if they re-opened in time. This could place a significant strain on teams looking to adopt a temporary home.
Without being certain about when games government regulations will actually allow the league to play, the league said simply left the schedule at “Week 1-Week 17.” By releasing a full schedule Roger Goodell and company seem more interested in pushing the season back rather than shortening it; but did leave open the option to do so.
According to Breer, the NFL will do all it can to keep its schedule in sync with the college football’s. So should college football get delayed until October as is a reported possibility; the NFL built its schedule to adapt somewhat.
For one, each team has the same bye-week as its Week Two opponent, creating a week in each team’s schedule to cut without real consequence. There are also no games between divisional opponents in weeks three or four; creating another few opportunities to shave games with minimal meaningful implications.
As with most other things in the world right now, nothing is certain for the NFL. Players and fans the country over will simply have to wait and see what happens.