While the Coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on American life, the NFL has slowly started the process of trying to return to normal operation. After teams were already allowed to reopen their facilities in mid-May under strict guidelines from the league and in accordance with local regulations, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed the 32 clubs on Thursday that the second phase of this process will be kicked off next week.
A memo sent to the teams explained that ticket offices, retail shops and customer-facing facilities are allowed to reopen (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter):
Beginning next Monday, June 1, clubs may reopen ticket offices, retail shops and other customer-facing facilities as long as the operation of such facilities fully complies with state and local regulation. Employees of these operations will apply against the current maximum number of employees (no more than 50 percent of staff in the facility, not to exceed 75 persons, which is a total for all club locations). Clubs may also continue to provide treatment and rehabilitation to players who were receiving treatment as of March 25, immediately prior to the date on which facilities were closed.
While the first part of this excerpt is important for the clubs and the way they conduct their business relating to customer service, the second has a more direct impact on the football operations: players returning from injury or offseason medical procedures — New England Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty among them, for example — will be allowed to continue receiving treatment at the club facilities. This has already been announced by the NFL earlier this month, and was now reaffirmed by Goodell’s latest memo.
The league also announced another change expected to be executed next week, even though no concrete date has been set just yet: members of the coaching staff will be allowed to return to work.
We expect that next week clubs will be permitted to include members of their coaching staffs among the employees permitted to resume work in the club facility. We are actively working with Governors and other state and local authorities in those states that have not yet announced definitive plans and will confirm the precise date on which coaches can return to the facility as soon as possible.
So far during the reopening process, only those coaches involved in the rehabilitation process mentioned above were allowed to enter facilities. Under the new rules that will likely go into effect next week, some coaches will be allowed to join them. Of course, as noted in the memo, local authorities will play a pivotal role in this process: only if all 32 teams are allowed to bring their coaching staff back into the building will the league pull the trigger and open up.
While Massachusetts has introduced a four-phase plan to reopen the commonwealth, the team likely will need special permission from Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration to return its coaches and players and resume offseason work.