NFL expects coronavirus cases to pop up as reopening begins

NFL expects coronavirus cases to pop up as reopening begins







The NFL isn’t expecting to strike out coronavirus.

Some facilities around the league, in states where it is permitted by the government, reopened Tuesday for a limited number of employees — who undergo daily temperature screenings. Coaches and most players (exception for injury treatment that began before the March 25 shutdown) are prohibited from returning to even the open sites.

“Everyone who is around each other in a football environment is going to share risk and share some common exposure,” NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said. “We fully expect that we will have positive cases that arise, because we think this disease will remain endemic in society, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that new positive cases arise. Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and to prevent spread.”

The Giants’ and Jets’ facilities remain shuttered under New Jersey orders. There is concern among coaches an uneven playing field could be created if some teams are allowed to bring back staff and players before others.

“Competitive issues are always important, and they always are considered in a way to try to preserve equitable treatment of all 32 clubs,” NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash said. “Certainly our goal will be to try to have all 32 clubs operating safely [simultaneously].”

NFL minicamps scheduled for June could be held virtually — just like current OTAs — because Sills said science and technology will dictate a return to the field rather than the NFL calendar.

“You can imagine the competitive advantage,” one NFL coach told The Post. “As long as all 32 teams are doing the same thing, there is not a huge anxiety yet to change things. We are first dealing with a pandemic that has killed thousands of Americans.”

Sills expects “very rapid evolution” in testing methods before training camps are scheduled to begin in late July.

“We want to make sure we are in no way affecting the supply of tests that are needed by the healthcare system in any of our markets around the country at large,” Sills said.

The Rooney Rule for ensuring diversity was expanded Tuesday: Teams now must interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach vacancies, at least one minority for any of the three coordinator vacancies and at least one external minority for the senior football operations/general manager position.

The NFL tabled a proposal to reward teams with better mid-round draft positioning for hiring a minority as head coach or GM. Commissioner Roger Goodell said “there was a great deal of support” from team owners but also feedback on how to strengthen it.

Teams no longer can block position coaches under contract from interviewing for another team’s coordinator vacancy. All assistant jobs previously were bunched together, limiting upward mobility.

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