Patriots' Robert Kraft Says NFL Prepping to Hopefully Play Football in the Fall

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 27, 2020

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft watches his team warm up before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. At right is team president, his son Jonathan Kraft (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Count Robert Kraft among the NFL owners who believe the league will be ready for kickoff this fall. 

The owner of the New England Patriots appeared on Fox News on Tuesday evening, telling host Sean Hannity the league is making positive strides as it prepares for Week 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We're preparing to hopefully play football this fall," Kraft said (h/t ESPN's Mike Reiss). "We're working hand-in-hand with our [players] union... We believe we're developing protocols that allow us to do it in a safe way, looking out first for our players and our personnel, and then of course, the fans. I believe we can do it."

Kraft's careful wording comes amid a spate of optimistic news from around the league Tuesday. 

The day began with Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reporting NFL coaches may be able to return to team facilities next week, with minicamps possible in June. 

That would mark a dramatic step forward for the league. Currently, teams are only allowed to have a maximum of 75 employees total at their facilities at one time, regardless if they are in the same building or not, so long as clubs remain adhering to local and federal social distancing guidelines. Coaches have not been permitted to return to facilities as the league works to ensure no team is getting a competitive advantage before all coaches can return to their respective offices safely. 

Robinson notes minicamps could take place as early as June 15 "depending on COVID-19 data and whether a handful of franchises get a 'go ahead' signal from state governments to resume full operations."

Later in the day, a clip of NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith on HBO's Real Sports surfaced with Smith saying he feels, on a scale of 1-10, the league is at a six or seven when it comes to playing out the season:

"A lot depends on what happens with the other sports," Smith said (via ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio). "To say we aren't looking at what's going to be happening in basketball and baseball, and we're not looking at how they work through these things, I'd be lying to you if we're not. How about I go with a six-seven on a curve?"

Now there's Kraft giving his view from the owners' side of the table. 

It appears there is plenty of desire from all parties on getting the league up and running on time. There are still plenty of hurdles ahead, and testing remains the No. 1 issue to solve, but the NFL appears confident in its "wait-and-see" approach while studying what other leagues are doing.