Dr. Anthony Fauci cast doubt Thursday on whether football will be played this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House task force on the virus, told CNN that the NFL would need to create a centralized format similar to what the NBA is planning in Orlando, Florida, to complete its season.
“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said. “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.”
Those who run the NFL and college football, however, are moving forward with plans to play.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL chief medical officer, said in a statement to the NFL Network that the league is taking steps to address safety concerns.
“Make no mistake, this is no easy task,” Sills said. “We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed.”
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay was skeptical.
“We are going to social distance, but play football?” McVay asked on a conference call Thursday with reporters to promote HBO’s decision for its show “Hard Knocks” to follow the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers through training camp. “It’s really hard for me to understand all this. I don’t get it.”
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh previously expressed doubts about following social-distancing guidelines and being able to play football.
At the college level, the NCAA Division I Council approved Wednesday a six-week practice plan that begins in July with the goal to play the season on time.