NFL's Dr. Allen Sills Says Playoff Bubble Not 'Safest Course' Amid COVID-19

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2020

A detail view of the goal line marker is seen before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills did not rule out the possibility the league will use a bubble-like environment for its 2020 playoffs, but he said it is against doing so for now.

"All options are on the table," he said, per Mike Jones of USA Today. However, citing the league's belief that a bubble wouldn't be foolproof and that the required isolation could exact a mental and emotional toll on the players, he went on to say, "We don't feel that's the safest course of action for us."

Sills noted that there have been 100 positive COVID-19 tests since the start of training camp and said the league's protocols should mitigate the spread of the virus.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shared those sentiments, saying: "We can not become complacent. Not the players, not the coaches, not the personnel. Ninety percent is not good enough in this environment. We have to be incredibly diligent and disciplined."

Jones wrote that the league and the NFL Players Association updated protocols to include game-day testing in an effort to prevent further outbreaks.

Schedule adjustments in the early portion of the season have been a dominant storyline as the league reacted to positive COVID-19 results on the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots and others.

For now, the plan is to finish the season as scheduled, but it is notable the NBA did not have nearly as many COVID-19 concerns while finishing its season and playoffs inside a bubble-like environment at Walt Disney World Resort.

The league invited 22 teams to Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to complete seeding games and the postseason, and there were zero positive COVID-19 tests or schedule adjustments.

Though players were inside the bubble for months, it was an impressive accomplishment during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NFL believes it will not have to resort to such a measure, though Sills did not rule out the option.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.