The first game of the 2020 NFL season is set to take place in 17 days. Despite the coronavirus pandemic still providing a major challenge for professional sports -- and the country as a whole -- the league seems set on making a season work.
While some doubt the season can play out without a bubble, the NFL has shown through training camp that is plausible. Though errors at one testing lab resulted in numerous false positives, things have gone rather smoothly. Especially in Washington, where Logan Thomas has been the only player to test positive since the group returned to Ashburn, Va.
Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan is among the population that believes a season can happen.
“I think so, they’re going off the numbers, the data that we have," Kerrigan told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. “It’s been really well done so far, we’re testing every day, we’re getting the results back the same day, which is huge.”
Kerrigan stressed that while the protocols are crucial, a major part of the success at training camp so far stems from the accountability of every person involved with the team. Head coach Ron Rivera noted at the beginning of practices that players and staff members would need to be diligent with how they carried themselves outside of the team facilities in order for the NFL's plan to work.
So far, Kerrigan has seen his teammates do just that and is hoping that continues as the season progresses.
“I think guys are doing a pretty good job outside the building as well. Keeping their distance from folks and not really leaving home unless you got to go to the grocery store or do something necessary," Kerrigan said. "I think it’s the right move. We just gotta all police ourselves to ensure that this thing can keep going.”
Straying away from the discipline in and out of the facility could easily derail the NFL season in a quick manner. As Major League Baseball has shown, one positive can domino into an outbreak. Unlike baseball where games can be played every day and made up with doubleheaders, football does not have that option.
If problems were to increase around the league, the NFL would be looking at a longer delay, like what the NBA and others had to do when their seasons were put on hold. Kerrigan sees that as one of the worst-case scenarios.
“What we really don’t want is the season to pause and then get picked back up kind of like the NBA did," Kerrigan said. “I feel like that would be a really tough thing.”
Football players could face large obstacles in trying to get back into game shape should the season be paused. Handling the contact and physicality of the game while working within an offense or defense is not something that can be simulated on its own with a trainer.
In order to avoid that, Kerrigan hopes to see players continue to follow protocols while the NFL puts the measures in place to keep everyone safe. At this point, the league has its foot on the gas and shows no signs of slowing down. The veteran wants it to remain that way.
“Hopefully we can just keep this thing full steam ahead," Kerrigan said.