The N.F.L. on Thursday canceled its annual Hall of Fame Game, an exhibition scheduled for Aug. 6, so gamers and coaches grappling with restrictions associated to the coronavirus pandemic might have extra time to arrange for the common season, which, for now, remains to be set to start Sept. 10.
The choice, by staff homeowners in an advert hoc teleconference, gave the league flexibility to push again, if wanted, the beginning of coaching camps. Starting in late July, groups are anticipated to start welcoming gamers to their services.
The league and the gamers’ union are additionally discussing different measures, together with additional trimming the preseason schedule, which consists of 4 video games per staff.
Still, Roger Goodell, the league commissioner, mentioned the N.F.L. was dedicated to beginning the common season on time and, if allowed by state and native officers, having followers within the seats at video games.
The most quick hurdle, although, is getting ready for coaching camps. While the league has established security protocols which have allowed entrance workplace members and coaches to return to their places of work, the N.F.L. and the N.F.L. Players Association haven’t agreed on a set of pointers, together with testing and quarantines, to manipulate the return of gamers. “Obviously, there’s a lot more to do,” Goodell mentioned.
Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, mentioned in a convention name with reporters after the assembly that the N.F.L. was in “very active discussions” with the gamers’ union on screening, travel and a “very ambitious” testing program, although “testing alone is not going to be sufficient to keep everyone healthy.”
“This is all about risk reduction,” he added. “We know we can’t eliminate risk.”
Unlike different skilled leagues whose seasons have been interrupted by the pandemic in March, the N.F.L. has been capable of conduct most of its regular low season actions, together with free company, the draft and low season exercises, remotely somewhat than in particular person.
The league did, nonetheless, cancel its annual assembly in late March and has mentioned its slate of regular-season video games abroad will probably be moved again to the United States.
Training camps will probably be significantly vital this 12 months as a result of coaches weren’t capable of work straight with new draft picks, gamers acquired by way of trades, free brokers invited to work out and different new gamers in April and June. The new collective bargaining settlement that was signed in mid-March permits groups so as to add two gamers, growing the roster dimension to 55 from 53.
The union and the league are discussing the opportunity of growing the dimensions of rosters much more to make it simpler to search out substitutes for gamers who’re contaminated with the coronavirus and should go into quarantine.
Teams should report back to coaching camp 47 days earlier than their first regular-season recreation. For the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, who open the season on Sept. 10, which means reporting on July 25. Other groups could be required to begin coaching camp by July 28.
The league has mentioned that to take care of aggressive steadiness, all groups should open coaching camp on the similar time. Doing so could imply pushing again the beginning of coaching camp as a result of the variety of infections has been rising in a number of states, together with Arizona, Florida and Texas, that host N.F.L. groups.
The variety of gamers who’ve been contaminated can also be rising. Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys’ star working again, confirmed that he examined optimistic for the coronavirus this month. Other members of the Cowboys, in addition to workers members and gamers from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Houston Texans, the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have additionally reportedly examined optimistic. Von Miller, the star linebacker on the Denver Broncos, mentioned in April that he had examined optimistic, whereas New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton additionally examined optimistic.
Some gamers, together with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, have been flouting the union’s social distancing suggestions by working towards in teams with out sporting private protecting gear, or P.P.E. On Thursday, Brady posted a photograph of a exercise to his Instagram account with a paraphrased citation from Franklin D. Roosevelt that learn, “Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
Alarmed by rising an infection charges and casual practices, the gamers’ union’s medical director, Thom Mayer, despatched a message to gamers final week urging them to not take part in group exercises in the course of the low season.
While different leagues, just like the N.B.A. and M.L.S., plan for gamers, coaches and workers to reside and work in an enclosed group, the N.F.L. has introduced no such plans. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s highest rating specialist in infectious ailments, solid doubt on the N.F.L.’s approach.
“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, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, informed CNN final week.
With so many unanswered questions on the way to start coaching camp safely, the homeowners have purchased themselves a while by eliminating the Hall of Fame Game.