Dr. Anthony Fauci finally said it. Maybe because nobody else would:
"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. 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."
I will take it even a step farther. I don’t think the NFL is going to be able to safely get off the ground this season, even if it attempts to operate in a bubble. Power-5 college football may have a better chance, because its players are often in some sort of athletic-dorm bubble, anyway.
Of all the pro sports, football is by far the most difficult to sequester personnel in a practical way. There are just so many more people -- players, coaches, support staff, even game officials -- than any other sport.
And the game itself features constant body contact and a high level of exertion. Listen to Rams Coach Sean McVay try to make sense of it:
"We're gonna social distance, but we play football? It's really hard for me to understand all this. I don't get it. I really don't."
The NBA has some body contact, too, and is wrestling with how to safely protect its players -- even going so far as issuing orders about no doubles in ping-pong because of social distancing...
...Between players who have just finished a basketball game where they are bumping, pushing and leaning on each other constantly -- and you want them to stay six feet apart while playing ping-pong?
And whatever problems the NBA will have, it will be nothing compared to the NFL, which doesn’t seem prepared for the daunting task ahead of it. I'm not even sure it will get through training camps without having to shut down.
The league seems to be intent on each team playing in its own stadium and there even seems to be hope of having fans in the stands. There has been no public discussion of a bubble and with so many people to keep track of, I can’t see any hope of any of these teams being kept free of positive COVID-19 tests.
And when one tests positive, what happens then? That player will have had physical contact with many others. This virus is nasty, in case you haven’t noticed. It spreads quickly and obviously, can be deadly.
It just takes one. One player, one coach or one trainer -- and it can blow all kinds of holes in any sport’s bubble.
The NFL, it seems to me, has been waiting for some sort of virus Hail Mary -- a vaccine or treatment program that can solve its problems.
It’s not happening. And neither is that season.