‘I think the NFL season could be over’: Why American football is entering critical moment in its future after Covid-19 outbreak

Stemming the spread of the virus in this way immediately following a positive test appears smart initially. But without significant space in the schedule to accommodate numerous postponements of games, it also leaves the players in immediate jeopardy by playing unprepared. In the short-term, there is success in terms of wins and losses to consider, while there is also a reminder of the sport’s danger with physical preparation key to limiting the risk of serious, long-term injuries, such as Dak Prescott’s horrific ankle fracture sustained on Sunday.

“You can’t sit around on the couch for a week and be on a Zoom meeting and expect to go be at a physical peak on a Sunday, or whenever the game is going to be,” said Ryan Tannehill on the alleged violations.

The Titans quarterback is one of the team’s leaders and as such holds considerable power, with the NFL’s culture lending itself to most following their team’s leaders and their interpretations of the protocols in place.

“You go as the leader of the team says,” Cliff Avril, former Seattle Seahawk and Super Bowl champion, explains. “If the quarterback wants to do it, you’ll probably do it.

“You’d follow suit and definitely go out there and practice. I think the NFL has some expectations of these players which is unrealistic, you can’t say they can play on Sunday but cannot practice.

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“It makes no sense. Injuries are already a big issue, to have no practice and only film study, you need that physical interaction. To say, ‘you’ve got the week off but you have to play on Sunday’, I think that’s unfair.”

Shifting the date of the Super Bowl appears to be sacrilegious, but the recent shuffle of the schedule, including eight games and nine teams, appears unsustainable should the situation escalate further. And at some point, commissioner Roger Goodell may be resigned to admitting enough is enough.

“It’s unchartered territory,” Avril adds when considering whether the season could be cancelled. “It’s going to have to be a coach or a quarter of the team has the virus, then it’s a situation where we have to start skipping more games.

“Then you throw the entire season off, with a 17-week season becoming a situation where it’s last-man standing at the end.

“The season would just end up getting longer. And when that happens, I think the season will be over.”

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