Last week, the narrative surrounding the NFL proposing a possible bubble scenario gained steam after more positive cases of COVID-19 surfaced throughout the league.
The NFL had not discussed in full detail the possibility of quarantining teams in a makeshift bubble. However, after the Tennessee Titans outbreak, conversations have begun internally in the aftermath. Until Week 3, the only discussions of forming a bubble revolved around the championship games – not the regular season.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive, and the league delayed the Patriots-Chiefs matchup to Monday night. Afterward, the bubble idea started to gain some traction around the league.
The playoff bubble had strong support within the NFL’s competition committee, but the NFL Player’s Association is a different story. The idea of being locked down in a bubble during the season is not an attractive option for most players. The concept includes teams and personnel quarantining in local hotels. In fact, the league would pay for the hotel occupancies, and therefore officials could easily monitor the players and staff.
An NFLPA source said that the NFL had not formally brought up the subject of bubbles. But, they did admit it wouldn’t be surprising for each side to discuss it at some point.
NFL COVID-19 Measures May Force Bubble Scenario
The NFL already has greater control over playoff and championship games. Some believe a contingency plan is a good idea for the postseason that involves hub cities and bubbles for the divisional and wild-card rounds. Additionally, after the Titans’ outbreak, the NFL’s football operations department has continued conversations on possible adjustments.
It is a possibility that not all teams could play the same number of games at the season’s end. In addition, some teams may not face an equal number of divisional opponents, which compromises existing tiebreakers. If postponed games due to coronavirus outbreaks are not made up because of further setbacks, the NFL may have to get creative.
Yet, the league is going to have to be flexible as each new outbreak brings about new scenarios and challenges. Just a week ago, the concept of an NFL bubble was barely on the league’s radar. But now, some team officials believe bubbles could be vital to finishing the rest of the season. The league may be forced to explore the bubble concept further as the weeks go on if positive tests continue their upward trend.
[H/T CBS Sports]