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NFL ignores Dr. Fauci, plans to reopen

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Dr. No has struck again.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned the NFL that if they don’t adopt the same “bubble” format that the NBA has adopted, they should consider canceling the season.

The “bubble” format will see NBA games played in empty stadiums and isolate players from the community—presumably family as well—to limit transmission of the COVID virus during the season.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL has balked at such a suggestion, saying that they are committed to the season and to public health.

“We are developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem,” said NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. “This is based on the collective guidance of public health officials, including the White House task force, the CDC, infectious disease experts, and other sports leagues.”

The NFL said it will begin by testing players every three days with vigorous contact tracing and quarantine for anyone affected.

Unlike the NBA, which carries 14-15 players on its active roster (450 players total), the NFL carries at least 53 players on game days, plus 10 on the practice squad—which this year will be expanded to 20 players as the NFL anticipates some positive COVID tests — for a total of 2,336 players, not including the large staffs associated with professional football.

The numbers would make finding a single site to house the teams very difficult compared to the NBA.

In addition, NFL teams would lose $5.5 billion in revenue if played without fans. The lost revenue equals $171 million per team.

The salary cap for NFL teams is $198 million this year. Under the salary cap agreement, the cap is adjusted for ticket sales. While each year has seen the salary cap going up, this year’s COVID difficulties could change that.

Reductions in ticket sales this year could bring next year’s share of the players’ pool of money down substantially.

That’s an eventuality owners and players want to avoid, no matter what Dr. Fauci says.   

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