NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Talks About How Football Will Return During Pandemic

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Katie Jerkovich Entertainment Reporter
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NFL’s lead medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, explained the steps the league will be taking in an effort to bring back football during the pandemic.

“We expect to have positive cases,” the chief medical officer for the National Football League told NPR‘s Rachel Martin on “Morning Edition” in a piece published Wednesday. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)

“No matter how careful that we try to be and how many protocols we have in place, we know that this disease remains endemic in our societies and our communities and it’s highly contagious,” he added. (RELATED: Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio Says He Doesn’t ‘See Racism At All In The NFL’)

Sills continued, while noting that “we’re all going to have to try to learn to live with this virus in a sense, because we don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.”

The doctor explained the NFL plans to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus with the “protocols” they have in place and an “extensive testing program.”

“We always say that the game of football and physical distance do not go together, that’s for sure,” Sills said. “But realize that the three hours of the game time represents a small fraction of the overall week of the team being together. So I think part of how we address that is trying to make sure that everyone who gets to the field is not infected, and we do that, again, through all of the protocols we have in place. ”

“We also have a very extensive testing program for surveillance, trying to detect any new cases as quickly as we can, make sure we get that person isolated, treated appropriately and removed from that team environment to prevent outbreaks,” he added.  “So I think part of how we mitigate risk on the field is arriving to the field uninfected.”

Sills also talked about plans to use things like “Oakley mouth shields. … It’s basically if you think about an eye visor that some of our players have worn, it’s an extension of that where you have a multilayer plastic device with a filter in it that actually does come down and cover the nose and mouth area.”

When pressed further, the doctor explained the NFL thought about doing what the NBA has done, with team, staff and press all at a resort together, but ultimately decided on a “virtual football bubble.”

“But when everyone is at the facility, they’re under a very careful set of protocols,” the doctor shared. “They’re under a number of measures that we’ve put in place. And then we’re asking them essentially when they’re not at the team environment to mostly stay at home, if you will. But when they go out to observe all of the best precautions that we can recommend, which means avoiding large gatherings, avoiding crowds, making sure they’re doing masks and all of the other measures that we know that work.”

“We settled on that approach because we thought it combined the elements of risk mitigation with also being practical and pragmatic over the course of a six-month season,” he added.