At some point the NFL will be opening locker rooms. In training camp, there are about 90 players in there, over 70 during the season...how will the league make it safe?
There are many, many life circumstances that will be unfolding over the next few months as we ease back into trying to resume a post-COVID-19 normal life. One big one that affects all of us is the workplace.
How will we handle office atmosphere? How will transit workers feel safe driving buses or trolley cars? How do we handle construction sites? Super markets are already figuring it out with employees required to wear masks and gloves, keeping aisles clear and six-feet distances at check out lines.
Eagles All Pro center Jason Kelce was recently asked how he feels about entering and spending significant time in the locker room, a place he and his teammates spend the lion's share of their time together as team.
The locker room is a place where the corona-virus could easily spread if the right procedures aren't in place.The 32-year-old said he has faith in the league and its medical staff to do the right things.
No one, including sports teams at the high school and college level, are sure how to handle making locker rooms, training rooms and showers areas safe enough to open, but Kelce believes the NFL will find a way.
“It's hard to say with the 90 guys in the locker room, it's hard to say in a season,” Kelce said in a recent conference call with Philadelphia area reporters. “I'll feel comfortable no matter what the NFL decides to do, to be honest. I believe that at the end of the day, if the NFL is allowing 90 guys in a locker room it's going to be in a safe and controlled environment in my opinion.”
“I don't think this is going to happen unless that is doable,” he said. “So whether that is through testing guys before they come into the building and the testing procedure is improved, or whether that statistically new cases are so low that point that there's not a big threat of 90 guys going into a locker room. I think there's a multiplicity of different factors and (will) shake out over the next few months, especially before the season. I don' think we'll be back at work next to each other and I don't think we'll be back playing and doing games unless the NFL is fully confident that it can be done in a safe manner. I will feel comfortable the moment they give the green light.”
Most communities across the United States, definitely not the Delaware Valley, have allowed fitness centers to reopen. Kelce talked about what the NFL is doing to help their players train until they can get to a local gym or until NovaCare is back open.
“Right now I think the NFL has given stipends to guys to get gym equipment at their houses,” Kelce said. “It's a very small stipend but it's enough to where, partnered with the strength coaches, we've facilitated a way for everybody to be able to get the workout and the physical preparation necessary, that's the physical aspect.”
Kelce said the Eagles coaching staff is trying to help their players, including veterans, rookies and free agents stay in touch, learn the playbook offensively and on defense, and do what they can while they can't be together physically.
“The mental aspect, we're getting great work on line with virtual meetings and all that stuff,” Kelce said. “To be honest, that's more beneficial for a lot of the young guys and the rookies. That's a big part for those guys that haven't played a lot.
"Just getting those mental reps, seeing tapes and see how to process things, what they're looking for, being disciplined with your eyes and all that stuff. What we're going to miss for sure is the little technique things on the field which I think we'll still be able to get in training camp. I don't think we're going to miss it too much, I'm being honest, in OTAs, maybe that's because I'm an older guy and I've done this so many times. There's no doubt other guys get more from that than a lot the older guys. But I've still got to keep up on my craft well so when all that resumes... we'll see.”
When it resumes indeed. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii