By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There’s an ongoing pandemic in the United States right now. Surely you’ve heard about it on the news, yeah?
In this pandemic, we’ve all grown accustomed to wearing face coverings, limiting our human interactions, keeping our distance from others, and so on and so forth. We do it because the experts tell us that it will likely help mitigate the coronavirus, and that’s something we all want as we desperately hope to one day resume our “normal” lives.
At the same time, we understand that there are certain situations where social distancing is simply not possible or practical. And one of those situations would be whenever football players meet up on a football field to play tackle football. Social distancing and playing football are antithetical concepts, you know?
Nevertheless, the National Football League — a multi-billion-dollar corporate behemoth that can’t figure out how to pay players this year or how to hold a preseason or (realistically) how to even hold a regular season — has gone out and solved one pressing issue with regard to the massively complicated undertaking of holding a football season during a pandemic.
So long, sayonara, peace out, COVID. You just got sacked by Roger Goodell’s NFL.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who’s really been a regular Scoops McGee lately for NFL Media, reported on Thursday that in an effort to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, the NFL will ban on-field jersey swaps after games.
NFL teams will be forbidden from postgame interactions within 6 feet of each other and jersey exchanges between players will be prohibited during the 2020 season, sources say.
Another way the NFL will look different in the COVID-19 world.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 9, 2020
Again, to reiterate: Coronavirus? Solved.
We did it.
Joking aside, it’s not that the banning of jersey swaps is a bad idea in and of itself. Surely, with many (but not all) Americans observing social distancing guidelines, it stands to reason that NFL players should set proper examples, particularly when millions of people are watching them.
At the same time … these football players will have just completed a 60-minute athletic competition in which 10-14 people will be wrestling and colliding at the line of scrimmage. Receivers and defensive backs will engage in man-to-man battles on the perimeter. Quarterbacks will get sacked. Running backs will get gang tackled. Safeties will jump into piles. Refs and officials will dig through those piles looking to identify who has possession of the football.
There will also be huddles before every play.
This will happen quite often:
Oh, and don’t forget the huddles:
And what about those pump-up circles?
Or post-play celebrations?
Will that all be banned?
Those seem like interactions that have a better chance of leading to the spread of a viral disease than these interactions do:
But then again, I’m no doctor.
All of those matters — aka, the fundamental parts of the entire sport of football — seem to be much more significant hurdles for the NFL to clear in order to pull off a season in 2020. That’s particularly true when you look around and see the positive tests popping up in other sports already. If a football player ends up playing a game on a Sunday and then testing positive for COVID-19 in the day or two after that game … then it’s quite likely that he will have had close contact with a lot of other players during the time when he was likely carrying the highly contagious virus. In that scenario, the banning jersey swaps may have prevented that virus from spreading to one more person … but it sure seems like a futile gesture at this particular point of time, doesn’t it?
That is to say, if someone is playing football while carrying the contagious virus, the damage will certainly have been done long before any potential jersey swap opportunity arises.
In any event, we can all wish a sincere good luck to the NFL in figuring out the rest of this predicament. It’s a league that operated from day one of the pandemic as if the league would somehow be immune to feeling any of its effects but is now scrambling to make things happen expeditiously in order to put football on the field this fall.
If they somehow pull it off … then kudos to them. Suffice it to say, we can all live without jersey swaps if everything else manages to magically get solved.