Former Eagles assistant and current Ravens head coach John Harbaugh doesn’t seem to be a big fan of the NFL’s Coronavirus guidelines.
In a recent interview on Baltimore radio, he described the return to play plans as “impossible,” saying this:
“I’ve seen all the memos on that, and to be quite honest with you, it’s impossible what they’re asking us to do. Humanly impossible. So, we’re going to do everything we can do. We’re going to space, we’re gonna have masks. But, you know, it’s a communication sport. If we’re gonna get out there and have any idea of what we’re doing on the field, we’ve got to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice.”
The NFL guidelines were sent to teams via a memo earlier this week. Among the demands are:
- Daily screening and testing for players who enter the locker room, practice field, and other areas.
- Six foot distance between lockers.
- Six foot distance inside training facility with rearrangement of furniture and whatever else might inhibit that.
- Virtual meetings where possible.
- You have to wear a mask unless you’re doing an performance-related activity, like lifting.
- No more than 15 players at strength and conditioning sessions.
- Equipment disinfected after each practice.
Most of that seems reasonable in a vacuum, but you’ve guys hitting and tackling and talking and gathered in close proximity on the field, which seems to run contradictory to the above bullet points.
Said Harbaugh on that:
“I’m pretty sure the huddle is not going to be six feet spaced. Come on. Are guys going to shower one at a time all day? Are guys going to lift weights one at a time all day? These are things the league and the (union) need to get a handle on and needs to get agreed with some common sense so we can operate in a 13-hour day in training camp that they’re giving us and get our work done. That’s the one thing, you can tell by my voice, I’m a little frustrated with what I’m hearing there. And I think they need to get that pinned down a little better. Maybe we’ll know more in two months, and we can be more realistic and practical in what they’re asking. I expect that to be the case.
I think good people, smart people are involved in this. But the way I’m reading these memos right now, you throw your hands up and you go, ‘wow what the heck? There’s no way we can be right.'”
He’s not wrong. The various sports leagues are just looking out for the health and well-being of players and staff, but some of the guidelines just aren’t realistic, or don’t interface with the football-related activities that will be taking place on the field.