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Fauci: “Impossible to call” if football can be played in the fall

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Mike Florio and Chris Simms look at how the NFL and NFLPA are handling an increase of positive tests from players as training camp approaches.

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an appearance on CNN it would be hard to see how football could be played in the fall if players weren’t quarantined in a “bubble.”

But the nation’s top infectious disease expert clarified those remarks, saying he was speaking in general terms only, since the unknowns about the progression of the coronavirus pandemic make it “impossible to call” whether a return to play can happen.

“The situation this fall will be dictated by the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States,” Fauci said, via Kristian Dyer of SI.com. “Optimally you would want to see the level of infection dramatically decreased and good control of any evidence of resurgence. Again, the officials of the league in consultation with the players will make their own decisions. . . .

“My statements about the NFL season have been misinterpreted and taken out of context. I was asked by officials from the NFL about risks associated with various scenarios that the NFL might face in consideration of the upcoming season. I provided advice from a public health standpoint. The ultimate decision is not mine but that of the officials of the NFL and the players themselves.”

The NFL has a month before teams are scheduled to report for training camps, giving them time to wait for more data, and the league’s chief medical officer emphasized the need to be “flexible and adaptable.”

Positive cases are popping up practically everywhere athletes are gathering, and the NFLPA has advised players to stop congregating before training camp. Of course, having a player such as Tom Brady lead workouts in defiance of that suggestion speaks to how difficult it will be to implement that.