Bill Belichick ‘is definitely high-risk’ as NFL plans return

Andy Hart
May 21, 2020 - 9:42 am
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Though the NFL benefits from its schedule that doesn’t include games until at least August, football like the rest of the professional sports world is trying map out a plan to be able to play through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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The Boston Globe (subscription) took an in-depth look at the potential hurdles the NFL could face while attempting to play games and even a full season this coming fall.

One of the first things that jumps out from the story is the obvious but still-jarring assertion that 68-year-old Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would be among those in the NFL world that might need to take even more extensive health precautions while doing their jobs moving forward.

“Belichick is definitely high-risk,” Dr. Richard Ellison, an infectious disease specialist at the UMass Memorial Medical Center, told the Globe. “The risk of someone being hospitalized or dying is about 10 folds higher for someone over the age of 60 versus someone who is in their 20s or 30s.”

The Globe story goes through the various precautionary procedures that the NFL could take moving forward, similar to those being considered across all of sports. That includes regular testing and games without fans, among many other safety measures. But there are a few tidbits that might be specific to the sport of football.

For example, NFL locker rooms are often organized by position groups, something that would likely be changed in an effort to avoid one player along say the offensive line spreading coronavirus throughout the position group swiftly. The Globe notes those players’ lockers could now be “staggered” and players might come to the facility in shifts rather than whole groups.

“Tom Brady and his backup probably shouldn’t be spending a lot of time together in the same room,” Zach Binney, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University, told the Globe.

Another interesting thought from the Globe story is that while many focus on when the NFL can return to practice and begin games, more thought may need to go into the latter parts of the season and winter postseason, when the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus could threaten the league’s games and even the Super Bowl.

“I think they may want to think about a shortened season,” Dr. Davidson Hamer, professor of global health and medicine at the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, told the Globe. “What we normally see as the end of the season, the playoffs and the Super Bowl, that could be peak time potentially.”

Related: Pro Football Focus ranks Patriots wide receivers near bottom of NFL