Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he isn’t one to back off a challenge. That includes, as he said Monday, a global pandemic.
Less than a week after Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that there might not be football this fall unless the players are isolated “in a bubble” away from the rest of society, Harbaugh’s opinion on the matter still hasn't changed.
“I’m not one personally to run scared from a virus or anything else,” Harbaugh said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m just not going to do it personally in my own life. I’ll be smart and I’ll do what’s asked and I’ll respect the protocols. We’ll do everything we can to respect the protocols and more.”
Harbaugh, who recently called the NFL’s return protocols “impossible,” still has his attention turned toward football being played in the 2020 season.
“I’m confident that it’ll happen, I’m very hopeful,” Harbaugh said. “I’m praying for it. I want it to happen and I think it will happen. I believe it will happen. I think we’ll have protocols in place. Testing is the main thing. That seems to be the biggest piece and the most important piece right now to make sure that we don’t have a spread in the building and those kinds of things. We’ll trust the higher powers on that one.”
Recently, the NFL has had players test positive for coronavirus, notably Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and players on the Texans and Buccaneers. The NFLPA released a statement in the last week advising against players working out together until the start of training camp at the end of July.
Until then, the Ravens’ coaching staff is finding out proper practice plans to ramp their players up to contact drills in practice.
“I think the league will probably put in some protocols and put a schedule in place that everybody will have to follow to ramp up towards the contact part of it,” Harbaugh said. “Exactly what those will be, we’re waiting to see. We’ll just see what the deal is. As coaches, we take it very seriously to prepare our team as best we can while at the same time staying as healthy as we can.”
Harbaugh added that while this is not an ideal situation for anyone, the Ravens are perhaps better equipped to handle social distancing protocols than the rest of the league.
The Ravens’ practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., was recently renovated and is one of the nicest facilities in the NFL. If there's a team equipped to spread out throughout a facility, it's the Ravens.
The next month will be telling for both the Ravens and the NFL. As of Monday afternoon, Maryland has 64,603 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 2,945 confirmed deaths and 602 patients currently hospitalized.
“Everybody’s going to do their best,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a new world. You can look at it any way you want to look at it, but I’m not going to run for cover, and I don’t think the NFL is either. But they’re going to try to be safe and secure and safety is going to come first. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the next six months. No human being knows that. So we’ll just have to be very adaptable and flexible and smart about what we do.”
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