There's still much to sort out amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the NFL has takenas scheduled in September. A virtual offseason has been put in place as travel bans remain and social distancing rules continue to be the rule of the day, but the league granted permission to teams in late May to reopen their facilities -- albeit with strict guidelines. No coaches or players were allowed in the building, for example, which keeps the virtual offseason in play, but the former has now received the green light from commissioner Roger Goodell.
In a memo sent to all 32 clubs on June 4, via Adam Schefter of ESPN, Goodell advised teams they can now allow coaches into their facility as early as June 5, as long as it doesn't violate law or the pre-established league guidelines for how to manage/test for coronavirus.
"This will advise that, beginning tomorrow, June 5, coaching staffs may be among the employees returning to your facility. As has been emphasized in previous advice on reopening facilities, this may occur only if your club has otherwise received necessary permission from state and local governments to do so.
"As stated in my memo of May 28, members of the coaching staff will count toward the maximum number of permissible club employees in the facility. Beginning [June 5], clubs may increase the number of employees in the facility to a total of 100 subject again to state and local regulation and implementation of the protocols under the leadership of [Chief NFL Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills].
"Coaches and other football staff, particularly those who may be in a higher risk category or who have concerns about their health conditions, are expected to speak with the club medical staff or personal physician about any special precautions or other accommodations that may be appropriate for their particular circumstances. In addition, we will work with club medical staffs to implement a program of COVID-19 testing for the coaching staff and other football personnel prior to players returning to club facilities."
Although coaches can now get back to work in their respective offices, the return of players to facilities won't be as simple as Goodell waving his hand. That must be worked out in conjunction with the NFLPA and, as it stands, it remains doubtful there will be any sort of traditional minicamp held by any club -- if there is one at all. Many are eyeing training camp as the first true test of a reopening NFL, and the league has already taken measures to begin safeguarding those as well,with the hopes of lessening the spread of COVID-19 via travel across state lines.
As for teams, not every club will get a chance to have their coaches return on June 5, which may draw concerns about competitive disadvantages. The San Francisco 49ers, for example, will likely not be able to enter their facility as early as the other 31 clubs -- via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network -- but the league's front office is aware of the matter and in communication with local authorities with the hopes of getting permission as soon as it is possible. The State of California, and particularly the Bay Area, have been one of the hardest-hit areas by COVID-19.
For all others, Goodell has given the thumbs up, as long as they also have it from their respective jurisdictions.