Count former NFL safety and current NBC broadcaster Rodney Harrison among those who doubts the NFL’s ability to mount the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harrison joined Mike Florio for a conversation about the difficulties involved with playing this year and Harrison approached the question along similar lines as Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins said he wasn’t confident that a “trust system” regarding how careful others are being about following protocols can work and Harrison raised the same concern about what players are doing when they are away from the field.
Case numbers are rising in many parts of the country and no vaccine is expected to be available in the near term, which led Harrison to ask “what’s changed” about the scenario for playing over the last few months.
“In football, you have to breathe on people,” Harrison said. “You have to tackle people, you spit on people. Guys have cuts, guys cough. . . . I don’t know how we’re going to have a season.”
Harrison acknowledged that the financial implications would lead many players to take the risk of contracting COVID-19 rather than sitting out the season. If those players do bring it into the locker room, the prospect of several players contracting it at the same time will go up and Harrison noted that creates other issues that would compromise the season.
“Competitively, it’s an unfair advantage,” Harrison said. “If Atlanta’s playing against Tampa Bay and Matt Ryan comes down with coronavirus, then the Falcons probably won’t even have a chance.”
The league has not wavered from its plan to go through with the 2020 season as scheduled and the coming weeks may test that resolve before camps open their doors in late July.