Just three months after he signed a two-year contract, Tom Brady's new NFL team has been hit with a health crisis. An assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has tested positive for coronavirus, and two other assistants have been quarantined to prevent further spread. The news was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that the afflicted assistant coach is asymptomatic. The coach's identity has not been revealed.
One Buccaneers’ assistant coach has tested positive for COVID-19, and two other Tampa Bay assistants have been quarantined, per sources. The one Buccaneers’ assistant coach who tested positive is asymptomatic.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 19, 2020
At this time, training camps are scheduled to start in late July, with the league remaining committed to its schedule of opening the regular season on Sept. 10, with fans in attendance. That timeline, however, has been questioned by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, who on Thursday, suggested that "it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall." Speaking to CNN, Fauci said players would essentially have to be "in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day." He added that "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."
In a statement in response to Fauci, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said that the NFL is "developing a comprehensive and rapid-result testing program and rigorous protocols that call for a shared responsibility from everyone inside our football ecosystem." He said that these plans were based on the collective guidance of public health officials as well as other sports leagues. According to Sills, adjustments to these protocols will be made "as necessary to meet the public health environment" as they prepare for the 2020 season. He said the season will have "increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees" and the league "will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed."
NFLPA Medical Director Dr. Thom Mayer, in a statement released by the NFL Players Association, acknowledged that "there are significant challenges to the operation of football during a global pandemic," according to CBS Sports. He said that widely available testing, as well as rigorous protocols and other safety measures, are "not just a key to restarting football, but also a matter of public health."