As the NFL prepares to come back and training camp gets set to begin, they face the same challenges as Major League Baseball, which has seen some teams struggle to avoid internal outbreaks as they operate without a bubble and players remain at their homes and able to interact with the outside world as the U.S. continues to see tens of thousands of cases per day.
The NFL, like other leagues, has given players the option to opt out of the season for no penalty (aside from giving up their salary), and a number have taken advantage. There have also been some key players that have been placed on the COVID-19 reserve list, including Matthew Stafford and Gardner Minshew, who plan to play but have either tested positive or have been exposed to someone who has.
However, this is something that impacts far more than just the players, as there are coaches, staffers, equipment personnel, and more that have to be in these facilities to make them go. On Sunday, we learned through multiple reports that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive, per ESPN’s Tim McManus, and informed the team of that result on Sunday evening.
Pederson is asymptomatic and feeling fine, a source said. A staffer who was in close contact with Pederson was also sent home. https://t.co/DnYDjju7wS
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 3, 2020
The team confirmed the news shortly after.
Assistant head coach Duce Staley will take over in-house head coaching responsibilities, while Pederson continues to work virtually while he quarantines, per Jeff McLane.
Doug Pederson will continue to lead the #Eagles virtually, as much as he can, source said. Duce Staley will assume head coaching responsibilities at the NovaCare Complex in Pederson’s absence. https://t.co/98pAIkOTmY
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 3, 2020
The good news is that he’s asymptomatic, but the 52-year-old Pederson’s positive test represents just how massive an undertaking this is for the league, and how difficult it will be to pull off a season. A head coach testing positive offers just as serious a chance at an internal outbreak as he conducts meetings with other coaches and interacts with players and executive personnel. On top of that, a head coach potentially having to miss games represents another potential in-season hurdle the league would have to figure out how to clear, even if that case is somehow isolated.
Hopefully Pederson’s case remains asymptomatic and he is cleared to return in the relatively near future, but as test results from around the league continue be released, the reality of the situation for the NFL becomes increasingly clear of just how massive an undertaking this all is — and precarious a position the season’s start is in.