NFL has no set date for reopening facilities amid coronavirus, cites 'competitive equity' as part of decision

Depending on what state you live in, the stay-at-home orders and timetables on reopening during the coronavirus outbreak may be different.

This puts the NFL in a tough spot.

In an NFL memo sent posted by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the league reiterated no date has been set to reopen team facilities. There are still three criteria that must be met, the memo said, and one of them is “competitive equity.”

If that means the NFL isn’t going to have some teams return to their facilities while others are not allowed to, it might get tricky.

NFL has no date for reopening facilities

Reopening facilities is a big deal because teams want to get their players in the building to work out and have some offseason practices before training camp. Even the opening of training camp is tied to the reopening of facilities, since many teams hold camp at their headquarters.

The three criteria outlined by the NFL was following “sound medical and public health guidance,” that reopening is permitted under government regulations and then the line about respecting principles of competitive equity.

It makes sense to want to follow a protocol in which all 32 teams open facilities or none do. It wouldn’t be fair for, say, the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots to have access to their facilities in June and July while division rivals Buffalo Bills and New York Jets can’t be at their own facility.

It might not be easy for the NFL to line up all 32 teams.

NFL teams are unsure when they'll be able to use their facilities again. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

NFL could face tough decisions

While there are plenty of theories about whether the NFL will play games in empty stadiums or partially full stadiums, they don’t often take into account that states could have different ideas about any games being held.

The issue of reopening facilities gives a glimpse into that issue. If 31 teams are clear but one isn’t, what then? What if it’s half and half, or just a handful that can and the others can’t? Teams wouldn’t be happy if they were held up because a small number of franchises couldn’t have gatherings large enough to accommodate a full football team, and the teams that can’t go to their facility would gripe about the competitive disadvantage.

There will be many considerations over the next few weeks and months, and it seems impossible to make it fair for all 32 teams. That will be one of the NFL’s biggest challenges.


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