President Donald Trump appeared to downplay a claim from Dr. Anthony Fauci that football may not happen in the fall due to COVID-19 with a tweet late Friday morning saying that Fauci has “nothing to do” with the NFL. The President then reiterated that if players don’t stand for the national anthem, he won’t be watching.
Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2020
The move came after Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview earlier this week that there might not be football in the fall at the college or NFL levels unless some major precautionary measures were taken.
"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,” Fauci told CNN. “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."
This week, Texans and Cowboys players, including Ezekiel Elliott, tested positive for COVID-19. Kareem Jackson of the Broncos did as well.
NFL offseason programs are scheduled to begin in-person at team facilities in late July.
After Fauci's interview, the NFL issued a statement saying it was addressing concerns.
"Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches and other essential personnel," the league wrote. "We are developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem. This is based on the collective guidance of public health officials, including the White House task force, the CDC, infectious disease experts and other sports leagues."
"Make no mistake, this is no easy task," the statement said. "We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed."
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