Dear Roger Goodell, I am sorry I doubted you

Cory Sparks, Assistant Sports Editor

As an avid football fan, I wanted nothing more than for this horrific year to be punctuated by another football season of big plays and crowds of thousands exploding in the enthusiastic chants many other fans have become accustomed to hearing.

As a realist, I knew that this probably shouldn’t occur considering the health consequences that could come from allowing fans into a stadium during a pandemic. Due to the direct contact aspect of football and the numerous players who opted out before the first week of the season, I was fearful that there wouldn’t be any season at all.

So when I heard that Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, was not following the bubble system that the NBA and NHL were, my fears for the health of many players and of the season’s chances of occurring increased.

The last time an NFL game was cancelled was on July 22, 2011, when the first preseason game of the year (the Pro Football Hall of Fame game) didn’t happen due an ongoing lockout that had been occurring that year. (Courtesy of Sam Benson Smith/WEBN-TV)

The football fan in me is happy to say that I was utterly wrong.

According to, of the 44,510 tests administered to players and team personnel going into the first week of the season, the combined positive testing rate across the league came back as 0.017 percent, significantly lower than the national positive rate of 8.2% reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I then heard, despite the fact that players are allowed to make contact with one another for 60 minutes of playing time, jersey swaps are not allowed. The ban on this tradition, which has way less direct contact than the in-game procedures, really had me scratching my head and questioning Goodell’s logic.

Nonetheless, the minuscule amount of players and team personnel having COVID-19 has shown that this procedure hasn’t hurt the league through the first two weeks.

Considering football demands direct contact between players, I believe that the precautions put in place have had a sizable impact on the low rate of positive cases found in the NFL.

One NFL procedure that I admire for being cautious is the fact that after testing positive, whether the person is asymptomatic or not, they must isolate out of the team’s facility for at least 10 days. Even if that player was asymptomatic, they have to have had two negative tests at least one day apart within a five-day period after the initial positive test, according to the NFL’s Football Operations website.

On top of these league-wide precautions, certain teams, such as the Denver Broncos, have sanitizing spray machines that cover nearly the entire body of each player as they walk into the team facility.

With all of these precautions being taken, I truly believe that NFL fans will be able to see a full season this year, including the new 14-team playoff format for this year.

The only hiccup that has occurred so far has been the Tennessee Titans having to close down their facility due to the reports by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) saying eight combined players and team personnel had recently tested positive on Tuesday.

Even with that instance occurring, the NFL seems to have the appropriate precautions in place judging by their low testing rates, and I hope that the final 14 weeks continue to prove my initial overreaction wrong.