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NFL’s chief medical officer doesn’t rule out putting all players in hotels

2013 NFL Combine

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: General view of the NFL shield logo in the end zone as a player rests during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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As the NFL deploys what chief medical officer Allen Sills calls a “virtual bubble,” there’s a chance that the bubble will harden, at least locally.

Pressed on the possibility of putting all players, coaches, and essential staff in a hotel in order to minimize the possibility of a player catching the virus away from work and bringing it to the facility, Dr. Sills said during a Friday visit to #PFTPM that all options are on the table.

It would be difficult for players to leave their families and to live in a hotel indefinitely, and it likely would require further negotiations with the NFL Players Association and modified opt-out rights, given that no player signed up for sequestration. But the current approach entails a degree of risk that would be reduced if players remain with the team; thus, the chances of getting all 256 regular-season games played would be enhanced if the players and coaches aren’t going home at the end of the work day.

The league is committed to pursuing the current approach unless and until circumstances require a change. With a full-blown, NBA-style bubble impractical, the next best thing could be a localized bubble that entails players shuttling between hotel and practice facility until the time comes to travel to the site of a game.

Again, it would be difficult for the players and coaches and other personnel to make that sacrifice. But if the alternative is lost games, lost weeks, and possibly a lot season, it’s worth considering -- especially if the current approach shows signs of collapsing.