With the NFL showing few positive COVID-19 tests in the past few weeks, Lamar Jackson said he hopes the progress will result in the Ravens and NFL reconsidering the decision not to have fans in some stadiums.
Baltimore's star quarterback told the media on Thursday that he and the Ravens organization hope to see fans in the stands at M&T Bank Stadium at some point during their 2020 season and believes that the league’s containment of the virus could allow spectators in the end.
“We all want fans in the stadium,” Jackson said. “We want our fans there to give us the momentum to take the field by storm. Everyone should be safe. I know everyone wants to keep their families safe, so we just got to go out there and do our job by following the protocols. That’s what we’ve been doing here, and the league’s been doing a great job at that, so I’m happy with that.”
Despite the concern the league faced last month when a New Jersey lab was linked to 77 false positives among 11 NFL teams, the latest round of testing showed only a total 10 NFL players and team personnel testing positive for COVID-19. In the period from Aug. 21-29, four players and six non-player personnel contracted the virus. In the week before from Aug. 12-20, no players and only six team personnel tested positive.
Testing for players and high-exposure personnel has been done daily throughout training camp. However, the NFL still must determine the testing cadence during the regular season. As of now, the league’s agreement with the players union for daily testing expires on Sept. 5.
With the low numbers, as Jackson noted, players are urging their teams and the league to reconsider the possibility of having fans at their games. Every franchise has announced a different protocol for fans. Some have said limited capacity, others have said no fans for the first few games while some have even banned fans for the season altogether.
The Ravens announced on Aug. 24 that they will not have spectators at M&T Bank Stadium for “at least the initial part” of the 2020 regular season. Their original plan proposed in July was to have 14,000 fans. By early August, that number was cut in half to around 7,000, but in the end, they decided against filling their stands for public health reasons.
While the NFL has succeeded thus far in limiting player exposure to the virus, many have doubted its ability to contain outbreaks during the season, especially without playing in a bubble.
Based on Major League Baseball’s numbers without a bubble, the NFL could see a spike in cases should players break the protocols. However, as Jackson noted, players have strictly abided by these rules throughout camp and the league has been able to successfully control the virus as a result.