If the NFL has learned anything from watching other leagues return to action, it's that they are going to have to deal with some positive COVID-19 tests. Tennis, golf, soccer, the NBA and even NASCAR have come face-to-face with positive coronavirus tests, and some leagues have handled it better than others. With training camp right around the corner, the NFL understands that some of their players and staff will test positive, but it's how they handle the situation that matters.
During a recent interview with Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said that the United States is undoubtedly still in the midst of a pandemic, but a return to football is possible.
"We absolutely expect (positive tests), and I think that's just reflective of the fact that this disease remains endemic in our society," Sills said.
What will make this unprecedented 2020 season a success or a failure is how the league deals with positive tests and whether or not they can successfully quarantine individuals. While the NFL expects plenty of positive tests at first, an outbreak during the regular season could completely derail this experiment.
"You don't want anyone who is infected to come into that team environment," Sills said. "That is an absolutely crucial screening for us to try to start off with a very healthy environment, and also make sure we can give the appropriate treatment and care for those individuals who may be affected and not be aware. But I think we all anticipate that there will be those cases, and we've been very clear of that throughout."
The league and the NFLPA have agreed that players who test positive but are asymptomatic will be quarantined for at least five days and must record two negative tests before returning. Symptomatic players must be quarantined for 10 days with two negative tests. With the NBA starting up again in the coming weeks, they will be a league to keep an eye on with how they handle positive tests and if they can stop the spread of the virus in the bubble.