The NFL will not require teams to adopt "bubble" environments for the playoffs, despite the successful postseason tournaments staged earlier this year by the NBA and NHL to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
The league sent a memo to all teams Tuesday detailing options for playoff clubs giving them the option to have players stay at hotels to prevent spread of the virus. The memo, a copy of which was obtained by Newsday, said teams may continue to offer hotel rooms for players who live with family members or roommates "if the player elects to move into a hotel in order to avoid possible exposure to the virus from their cohabitant(s)."
"This provision will remain in place throughout the postseason, however, with the exception of the night before the game when players and coaches are required to stay in the team hotel, clubs may not require players and staff to stay at a hotel in their local area," the memo said. "This decision is based upon an analysis of the frequency of positive cases in the league compared to the risk of significant spread among players and staff gathered for an extensive period of time at one hotel."
Players can be required to stay at team hotels the night before games.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has consistently said the league would be open to any arrangement during the playoffs, as long as keeping players safe was the top priority. He and Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s medical director, have also said they would not require teams to adopt a "bubble" setup in the playoffs. Tuesday’s memo makes it clear the league will not bring teams to a more centralized location during the postseason, allowing them instead to remain in their home cities.
No games have been canceled so far this season, although some teams have had to reschedule games. Goodell believes the league can complete its season on time, concluding with Super Bowl LV in Tampa on Feb. 7.
The league and NFL Players Association announced Tuesday there were 14 new confirmed positive COVID-19 tests among players and 31 new confirmed positives among other personnel for the testing period between Dec. 6-12. A total of 41,857 tests were administered to 6,960 players and team personnel. There were 32 positive tests among players during Thanksgiving week.
From Aug. 1-Dec. 12, 187 players and 328 other personnel have tested positive.