The picture of how the 2020 NFL season will happen is beginning to come into focus. Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a league-wide memo on Tuesday; requiring all 32 teams to hold their training camps at their own practice facilities.
The only exception to the rule pertains teams in places where local law prevents them from gathering. He also banned joint practices for this year in the memo to reduce the opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.
“The NFLPA was strongly in favor of these two decisions, which were made to limit exposure risks by avoiding the need for clubs to clean and maintain two facilities, by limiting the need for players and club staffs to travel to another location (sometimes located at a considerable distance from the home facility), and by limiting travel and contact between players on different clubs in the context of joint practices,” Goodell said in the memo.
“These steps are being taken for the 2020 preseason to address the current conditions and are not expected to be in place in 2021.”
This doesn’t change much for every team; but about one-third of NFL teams held training camp somewhere other than their normal practice facility last year. One such team is the Carolina Panthers; who have a tradition of starting their season at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
“We are aware of the league’s decision regarding training camp and support its goal of ensuring the safety of fans, players, coaches and staff,” said Panthers V.P. of communications and external affairs.
“We value our longstanding relationship with Wofford College and the Spartanburg area and look forward to returning in 2021.”
The Dallas Cowboys also had to scrap their normal plans for training camp in Oxnard, California; something that presents a couple compounding issues. The summer temperatures at Jerry Jones’ facility known as The Star in Frisco are much higher than in Oxnard, and could force the Cowboys to alter their workout schedule.
The issue is probably the most complex for the Raiders, who are in the midst of their transition from Oakland to Las Vegas. The team is currently working out at their Oakland based complex in Alameda, California; but planned to hold camp as usual in Napa.
Steps so Far
In mid-May the league worked with experts and announced a plan for allowing some people back to team facilities.
“In the first phase, there’s going to be up to 75 people allowed into the building,” reported NFL Insider Albert Breer. “I think that number is interesting because it’s going to allow you to bring in maybe certain people in certain departments and slowly work people into the building.”
The Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers is still slated to open preseason play on August 6 in Canton, Ohio.