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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasizes safety as camps open

Updated July 27, 2020 - 2:03 pm

As most NFL training camps open Tuesday, including for the Raiders, Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized in an open letter to fans that the league is committed to doing so safely.

“In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, we have navigated the time carefully, thoughtfully and in partnership with the NFL Players Association with a shared goal of playing a healthy and complete 2020 season,” Goodell wrote. “This process has not been easy — COVID-19 will continue to present a major challenge to nearly every area of American life. Football is no exception.”

The health of athletes, coaches and staff is being scrutinized because the NFL is one of the few leagues that will not operate in a “bubble” system. Major League Baseball is another one, and the Marlins were forced to postpone Monday’s home opener against the Baltimore Orioles after more than a dozen Miami players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The Marlins remained in Philadelphia, where they played over the weekend.

The Yankees’ game against the host Phillies also was postponed because New York would have used the clubhouse occupied by the Marlins.

Goodell said the NFL has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts, the White House Task Force and various state governors.

“The NFL in 2020 will not look like other years,” Goodell wrote. “Players and coaches will be tested for the virus regularly, including every day for a while. Preseason games have been canceled. Everyone in the team environment must follow rigorous health and safety protocols to keep themselves and each other safe. When there is a positive test, strict regulations will be enforced to isolate and care for that individual and to contain the virus before it spreads.

“Even the sideline will look different. And, state and local health guidelines will help determine whether fans will attend the games. These adjustments are necessary to reduce the risk for everyone involved.”

Goodell pointed to the steps being taken by the Los Angeles Rams as an example of the league’s commitment to safety. Unlike most teams, the Rams’ football operations and business offices are in separate buildings. Team meetings and walk-through practices will be under an open-air tent, and the media room was converted to create an expanded locker room and more distance between players.

“Adaptability and flexibility will be needed for the foreseeable future,” Goodell wrote. “After all, even the best game plan changes as new challenges arise.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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