Watch Now: NFL Cancels Hall Of Fame Game, Postpones Enshrinement (1:27)

Although the NFL remains optimistic there will be a regular season in 2020, the increasing severity of the coronavirus pandemic in many parts of the country means nothing is certain, and Malcolm Jenkins doesn't like the look of any of it. The league initially dodged the worst fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic by virtue of professional football being scheduled for September, whereas other major sports leagues were either well underway or about to begin their seasons when the novel coronavirus gripped the planet in the spring, leading the NFL to suffer only a virtual offseason and canceled minicamps. And while commissioner Roger Goodell is still eyeing a possible July 28 start to training camp, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams has reportedly been sacked, leaving Jenkins and other players to wonder if it's still too unsafe to consider playing football in 2020. 

Some point to the soon-to-reopen NBA as a possible blueprint for the NFL, noting how Disney World will be used as a bubble city to house all players, league personnel and media covering the sport, but Jenkins believes that format is unrealistic when it comes to football. As such, he's resolute in his stance the COVID-19 threat mustn't simply be curbed, but instead quashed altogether before he's OK with re-entering an NFL locker room. 

"The NBA is a lot different than the NFL," Jenkins said, via CNN. "They can actually quarantine all of their players, or whoever is going to participate, whereas we have over 2,000 players; and even more coaches and staff who can't do that. So we end up being on this trust system -- the honor system -- where we just have to hope that guys are social distancing and things like that, and that puts all of us at risk. That's not only us as players, and whoever's in the building(s), but when we go home to families. 

"I have parents that I don't want to get sick. I think until we get to the point where we have protocols in place, and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it -- we have to understand that football is a non-essential business. We don't need to do it. So the risk has to be eliminated before we -- before I would feel comfortable with going back."

Those are strong words from not only one of the more prominent players in the league, but also one who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the NFLPA. For although the NFLPA and NFL released a joint memo recently dictating a list of new COVID-19 protocol teams must adhere to in 2020, no player will be allowed to return unless the former gives the green light. And considering Jenkins is a key part of those discussions, the challenge for the NFL here is obvious, namely having to convince him and other player reps that playing football is worth risking the health of loved ones, as Jenkins noted. 

Things appeared promising on the pandemic front as summer arrived, with many states swapping shelter-in-place orders for phased re-openings in June, but spikes in positive COVID-19 tests around the country strongly suggest the second wave medical experts warned about is upon us. 

With added news of players, such as Ezekiel Elliott, and coaches around the country testing positive as well, the timing is such that the NFL is finally facing what other leagues were forced to contend with in March. There's still time for another downturn in the pandemic before September, but with training camp set for late July, there are major decisions that must be made by the NFL, and soon.