The NFL is pushing forward with the start of training camp even as the league and NFL Players Association remain apart on certain fundamental issues to play a season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NFL teams received an email on Saturday from NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent confirming the reporting dates for camp in their home markets. Teams were told in June they would be required to hold camps at their home facilities due to the novel coronavirus rather than traveling to camp.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans rookies are reporting to camp Monday since they’re scheduled to kick off the season on Thursday, Sept. 10. Rookies for all other teams are to report on Tuesday.
Quarterbacks and injured players are to report on Thursday, and all players are to be in camp by July 28.
NFL clubs just received this email with reporting dates.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 18, 2020
Training camp is on. pic.twitter.com/lya1JtxW4o
Only 20 players are allowed at the facility at a time until the NFLPA agrees to infectious disease emergency response plans for each franchise, Tom Pelissero reported for NFL Network.
As of now, only 20 players would be allowed in the facility at a time, until the NFLPA signs off on infectious disease emergency response plans for each club. If protocols aren't met, a grievance could follow. But clubs have the right to set reporting dates within CBA rules.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 18, 2020
The NFL has maintained for more than a month now that it will start camps on time. There has been no talk of a postponed or altered regular season. Cities around the country are beginning to tell teams if they can have fans at stadiums or not when the season does start.
The memo to NFL teams comes as the NFL and NFLPA are still discussing safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic and how testing will work. The ongoing conversations but the push to open camp anyway has led to confusion and dismay, Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson and Pete Thamel reported on Friday.
JJ Watt details grievances with plan
Players have voiced concern as the NFL goes forward with its plans, and Texans star J.J. Watt detailed specifics of those discussed with the NFLPA.
Watt said, among other issues, there have been zero teams so far to submit a valid infectious disease emergency response plan, and there is no clarity on how often players will be tested for the virus.
Deaths rise in Dolphins’, Texans’, Cardinals’ markets
There are more than 3.6 million total COVID-19 cases and 139,186 deaths in the United States as of Saturday, per the New York Times. NFL markets in Arizona, Florida and Texas are hot spots currently and experiencing increasing cases and death numbers.
Miami-Dade County in Florida, where the Miami Dolphins play, has had 19,525 new cases in the past week and 77,866 total cases. Duval, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Pinellas, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are also experiencing increased cases.
The Houston Texans’ Harris County has had 11,555 new cases in the past week and 53,555 overall. The Arizona Cardinals’ Maricopa County has had 15,535 new cases in the past week, totaling 91,863 overall.
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