Up until a couple days ago the biggest problems in the National Football League seemed to be the Denver Broncos finding a capable quarterback and the Atlanta Falcons pass defense. Those are the kind of things the league faces every year, but now, the NFL is faced with a much greater issue to overcome, as are so many of us today, the Coronavirus.
Infections spread through the Tennessee Titans organization like water intruding through door jams in a flood. So far, four players and five staff members have tested positive, and the possible chain reaction has the NFL on full alert.
Right now, both the Titans scheduled game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings visit to Houston are in peril of being delayed or cancelled. The Vikings were swept into the concern because they hosted the Titans last Sunday.
While the National Basketball Association adjusted final eight games of their regular season and playoffs were staged in a controlled environment without any outbreaks that caused rescheduling, and Major League Baseball had some games postponed when outbreaks occurred, the NFL is in a unique situation.
Unlike the NBA bubble basketball plan which included all games being played on a neutral court, or the dodge-the-bullet baseball schedule that determined not all postponed games would have to be made up and that final league standings would be determined by win/loss percentages, football has a hybrid of both strategies. First, like baseball, they have teams traveling around the country to play in mostly empty stadiums. And second, they are determined to find a way to have all their games played to decide what they hope will be a postseason schedule that opens in January.
Basketball seems most likely to carry the threat of passing the virus from player to player. They are in close proximity during their games with contact unavoidable and protection in both clothes and face coverings impossible.
Thus, they employed the successful bubble method.
Baseball is mostly a non-contact sport, and face protection can be worn while players are engaged in their game.
But football, here is the tough one.
Full contact, optional mask rules for players on the field, and teams traveling through airports, eating at restaurants and staying in hotels where the public is welcomed.
What could go wrong here?
Well, to begin with the Titans outbreak and the possible repercussions to follow.
Geeze, I long for the days when the biggest problem in the league was a weak defense or inept offense.