Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the NFL’s safety guidelines for returning to work are “humanly impossible” to adhere to.
Harbaugh, who began his NFL coaching career with the Eagles from 1998 through 2007, was responding to a league edict issued Monday outlining safety protocols for players, coaches and other team employees as they return to their practice facilities.
He spoke on Baltimore radio station 105.7 The Fan in an interview with Jason La Canfora and Ken Weinman.
Are guys going to shower one at a time all day?” Harbaugh said, according to a story on the Ravens' official website. “Are guys going to lift weights one at a time all day? These are things the league and the [NFLPA] needs to get a handle on and needs to get agreed with some common sense so we can operate in the 13-hour day in training camp that they're giving us and get our work done.
The safety guidelines call for six feet between lockers where possible, six feet of separation between staff members while in the building, masks to be worn except during workouts, virtual meetings being held if possible, etc.
"I've seen all the memos on that, and to be quite honest with you, it's impossible what they're asking us to do. Humanly impossible," Harbaugh said. "We're going to do everything we can do. We're going to space, we're going to have masks. But, you know, this is a communication sport. So if we want to get out there and have any idea about what we're doing on the field, we have to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice and I'm pretty sure the huddle's not going to be six-feet spaced.”
Harbaugh joined the Eagles as special teams coach under Ray Rhodes in 1998 and was kept on by Andy Reid a year later. He remained in that role with the Eagles before moving to the secondary in 2007. He became head coach of the Ravens in 2008 and has gone 118-74 with a Super Bowl win and eight playoff appearances in 12 seasons in Baltimore.
Training camps are scheduled to open in about six weeks. The preseason opener is the Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Cowboys on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio. The first full preseason weekend is currently scheduled for Aug. 13, although there have been reports that the league is considering cutting the preseason down to two games.
"Now, maybe we'll know more in two months, and they'll be able to be a little more realistic and practical in what they're asking," Harbaugh said. "I expect that to be the case. I think good people, smart people, are involved in this. But the way I'm reading these memos right now, you throw your hands up and you go, 'Well, what the heck? There's no way we can be right.'"
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