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Dr. Fauci: NFL will need an isolated bubble to return in 2020

DAMICHAEL COLE
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Dr. Anthony Fauci

The NFL has been quiet on its expected approach to the 2020 season, but there is growing concern that it will be as limited as other sports.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believes the NFL will need a bubble to play in 2020.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble —insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NBA, WNBA, and tennis have each made plans to incorporate bubbles into its seasons. The common denominators are regular testing, temperature checks, designated hotels, and all games being played at a central location.

If the NFL takes this route, it will likely be harder than any other sport. Each finalized NFL roster has 53 players, plus 12 practice squad players. Supplying lodging for 65 players per team would mean finding hotels for more than 2,000 players, coaches and personnel league-wide.

It would be the largest gathering of people in a bubble for any sport. Not to mention, hosting 14 or more games each week will probably mean more Saturday or Monday contests if limited to three or four stadiums.

Plenty of factors have to be considered with football and it’s a tough task. When considering college football, it’s even more difficult due to players being on college campuses.

Fauci said in May that football is the “perfect setup” for the coronavirus to continue to spread. The NFL will have to closely monitor the success and failures of other leagues while also being creative with its own set of guidelines due to its large numbers.