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'NFL had the longest possible time to determine a plan and they came out with essentially nothing' | Cian Fahey

Ruairi Carberry
Ruairi Carberry

15:14 1 Aug 2020

The absence of a substantial plan for the National Football League's return is concerning, according to Cian Fahey.

Fahey joined The Saturday Panel along with Ryan Jones, and Mike Carlson to discuss the return of sports in the US, where there have been extremely different results depending on where you focus on.

The MLB has been forced to cancel several games due to outbreaks of coronavirus in certain teams.

The NBA Players Association, on the other hand, announced that there had been zero positive tests in their latest round of testing.

There are concerns as to whether or not either league will see out the end of the season.

"It remains to be seen how long sports can maintain what's happening as long as the infection is essentially as out of control as it is right now," said Jones, editor of Slam magazine.

Both organisations were forced to deal with a fragmented season that was cut into two parts as a result of lockdown, a problem that the NFL did not have.

Following the Super Bowl's conclusion in February the NFL have had more time than any other sports league to plan for the future and surprisingly they have yet to deliver anything concrete, according to Fahey, a contributor to Off The Ball.

"What is really either interesting or worrying about this is COVID broke out I guess in March, came about in February, the NFL season ended the first week of February. They had the longest possible time to determine a plan and figure out what they're going to do and they came out with essentially nothing," Fahey said.

"They had eight months and that's either a reflection of how difficult it is to have sports in America right now or it's a reflection of how the NFL works and how the NFL owners work."

Many of the NFL's owners have close relationships with Donald Trump, and there is a sense that his attitude towards reopening the country after the pandemic may have influenced the approach of various teams putting forward their own plans to return.

April 23, 2020 - National Presentation due to Virus..(FILE PHOTOS)..Name: Joe Burrow.Round Chosen: 1.Pick: 1.NFL Team: Bengals.College: LSU Tigers.Position: Quarterback..(Mandatory Credit: Jose Marin / MarinMedia.org / Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA) (Absolute Complete photographer, and credits required)(Credit Image: © Jose Marin / Marinmedia.Org / Ca/CSM/Sipa USA)

The lack of a unified plan from the league mirrors the state- by- state approach towards tackling the pandemic.

There is certainly more logistical problems associated with beginning the NFL season, largely down to the sheer numbers of those involved in a typical American football team. That is not the only issue, according to Fahey.

"It's not just the amount of players, you need supersized gyms to fit all these guys in and have all the right equipment for them, you need to feed all these guys and you need to house all these guys."

The NBA has received praise for its approach towards their return. The bubble structure in Orlando, Florida has so far held up well.

There have been a number of entertaining games since the restart, most notably the battle for Los Angeles supremacy between the Clippers and the Lakers.

Mar 1, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA

Trump has in the past pushed the return of sports while the country has struggled with the ongoing crisis.

He has stated that it is important for the psyche of America for live events to return and praised UFC president Dana White when the company held their first event after the shutdown, in May.

There is a fear that the president will use the NFL's return as a campaign talking point, to distract voters from his handling of the pandemic, before the elections in November.

Mike Carlson believes that this will only happen should players decide to take a knee before the games.

"I suspect that sport and the NFL, in particular, will become a campaign point if only for players taking a knee before the game, which the NFL has now decided they will not stand in the way of players doing," Carlson said.

"Trump will, therefore, use that as a sort of political football, if you'll pardon the expression, to kick around. If the league cancels I think you will see some criticism from him."

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