The NFL’s chief medical officer predicts the 2020 football season will look different as the country continues to combat the coronavirus.
Dr. Allen Sills told Axios that he’s “very optimistic” there will be a football season, but warned it won’t be “football as usual.”
“There are going to be a lot of changes in the way that we do things, from how we practice, to how we lay out our facilities, to how we travel, to how we organize sidelines and the on-field experience," he told Axios. "One of our athletic trainers probably expressed it best when he said, 'It's not going to feel normal because it's not going to be normal.'"
Professional sports leagues have had to come up with creative ways to safely play their sports. The NBA plans to play at Walt Disney World in order to create a “bubble” to help curb the spread of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading doctor on coronavirus, told CNN on Thursday that the NFL should consider a bubble as well.
"If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year," Fauci told CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sills said the NFL is planning to create what it calls an “ecosystem” in order to reduce risk of the virus spreading. He said the league is working in a "very collaborative effort" with other sports leagues "to share learnings and source ideas from each other" on best safety practices.
He said using the word ecosystem “encompasses the fact that it's everybody who is together with shared responsibility and shared risk."
"It's a different concept obviously than everybody being at one single site and nobody coming in and out," he added, referencing the NBA's bubble plan.
Sills also pointed out the season start is still about 100 days away.
"If you think about how long it's been since all this started — sheltering at home, quarantining — it feels like a really long time. But it's been about 100 days, and that's roughly the same amount of time that we have between now and the start of our season," he said.
Sills predicts the rules in place at the start of the season likely will change by the end as “new knowledge becomes available."
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