A Different Road To Victory

June 17th, 2020

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Before the Bucs design their first play for Tom Brady, this franchise has to construct a detailed game plan against everyone’s No. 1 opponent — the coronavirus.

The Bucs and 31 fellow NFL clubs aren’t quite sure how to proceed in the midst of a global pandemic, although the league has issued a series of protocols to help minimize the spread of Covid-19. Tampa Bay executives and coaches are busy trying to figure out how to ensure proper social distancing at the facility, including meeting rooms and the locker room.

“It will be more difficult for football than a few other sports,” says Saad Omer, an epidemiologist and the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health.

Social distancing at practice will be difficult (though not impossible for some.)

The Bucs have opened their headquarters to a select few, but the real test comes in a month when players, coaches and support staff report for training camp. A 22-year-old safety may not be dwelling on this virus, but others in the organization surely have major concerns.

For instance, Bruce Arians turns 68 in October. Tom Moore will be 82 in November. According to the data, the effects of Covid-19 tend to be particularly harsh on older Americans.

One Buc Place is currently off limits to anyone whose name isn’t on a security list. The few who are granted entry wear masks at their desks.

“I don’t think we can abandon anything,” says Byron Leftwich. “All you have to do is put the news on and see how many people we’ve lost. Just about everybody I know knows someone or has been close enough to somebody that has lost somebody in this situation. It’s tough … it’s real.”

In 2013, the Bucs endured a MRSA scare, a staph infection that is resistant to common antibiotics. That was alarming enough, but the coronavirus represents a threat on a whole different level.

“We’re going to be very, very, very protective of our players in the environment and making sure we are doing the right thing,” says Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “I’m not going to tell you all the stuff we are going to do, because I don’t want to give our stuff away right now, because we are still trying to figure it out.”

The Bucs have experience (see 2013(, with extreme protocols.

The Bucs boast a state-of-the-art facility, but it wasn’t designed with a pandemic in mind. With 90 players trying to make the final roster, the idea of proper spacing is a daunting goal.

Continual testing will be critical in a sport that demands close contact.

“It’s impossible to maintain 6 feet of space when you’re playing football,” acknowledges the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills. “At the same time, there are many other things you can do to mitigate risk off the field.”

In case you were wondering, there is virtually no chance fans will be allowed to view Buc training camp practices in person. Those sessions also may be blocked from the media.

Team-By-Team Decisions

When players break into their separate meeting rooms, coaches may have to conduct staggered sessions to ensure approved distancing. Treatment areas will require strict monitoring to prevent overcrowding.

Despite the league-generated protocols, individual teams will have some leeway.

“Each club has the opportunity to do that as they choose, within the guidelines of the protocols,” Carroll says. “It does come back to the clubs to make the final decision of how you put things in, and the state, also, to allow us the guidelines to move forward.”

The implementation may be different, but the task is a common one. If left unchecked, this virus can wreck a team’s season before it starts.

“We’ll give it the respect that it deserves and we’ll do whatever we need to do to try and stay as safe as possible,” says Leftwich.

“That’s our only mindset. Let’s stay as safe as possible, especially right now, until we can get this thing under control. You have no choice but to respect it because of the damage that it’s already done.”

Enjoy Mike Alstott’s interview on last week’s Ira Kaufman Podcast.

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16 Responses to “A Different Road To Victory”

  1. Ship Thief Says:

    Yes, Sage!
    If we don’t respect the power of this thing, then we will be proven to be fools!

  2. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    It might help if we could get the orange haired one to wear a freaking mask and tell all Americans to wear one as well in public.

  3. Durango 95 Says:

    Read to the bottom of the first paragraph saw it was about “The Sickness”. Then stopped right there.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It seems to me that teams ought to share ideas on how to protect against the v……from what I just read, Pete Carroll doesn’t want to provide that info.

    This is different than football plays & strategy…..it’s a health issue and the more info and ideas, the better.

  5. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Don’t see why football fans can’t follow same guidelines as protesters-

    Wear masks, goggles
    Don’t yell, bring noisemakers instead
    Bring hand sanitizers and gloves
    Self quarantine after the game
    Stay close with a group of fans you know don’t have the virus

    If protesters can have a venue, so should sports fans

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Does anyone actually think based on what we know so far that this virus would be anything but asymptomatic to football players. All they have to do is get tested and not visit their elderly in the event of infection.

  7. gp Says:

    I’m sure the NFL and individual teams are consulting experts who have far more knowledge about the matter than any of us. Obviously, what we have come to accept as the new norm, will not fly on the football field.

  8. Stanglassman Says:

    The chance of a football season has gone down considerably since the mid May. Not only have the Federal response gone from little to none now there are a large percent of people refusing to wear mask in public or social distance. This is why there it’s surging in so many states in the south. When there is no football and another 200k die we will know who to thank.

  9. Mike Johnson Says:

    I’m not feeling an entire season. Not even an abbreviated one. How you gonna stay safe up close on a football field. Does the NFl have some kind of secret impenetrable mask we do not know about? The virus will only be defeated when a vaccine is available and that’s looking like spring at the earliest. I laugh when I see people not wearing mask. Its like they are saying, I am invincible..Come and get me. People should want health more than sports. But fans are selfish.

  10. bojim Says:

    The season is looking worse and worse.

  11. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Mike Johnson: At first you admit that most masks don’t work, then go on to say most people are stupid for not wearing a mask. Thank you for contradicting yourself, Captain Sunshine! ☀️

  12. Cainishere Says:

    Really folks, masks and gloves. That is all you will find we need to prevent the spread of the virus. The Stadium needs to cut out boos permanently.
    Alcohol presents too much risk for the club to handle in this day of
    “sue me sue you”
    Of course no autographs or player to fan contact. Temps taken at gate
    you could sit half the stadium if everyone has gloves and masks on.
    Adult prices should rise, hopefully, children’s will stay the same.
    Some other things that may help. Gloves on refs with masks, age could be a factor in that. No tossing a football or jersey or any player to fan contact at any time. only so many allowed in the bathroom at a time and you could have someone cleaning the urinals and toilets once a person finishes.
    Tailgates must be well spread apart.
    Fans traveling throughout the stadium must be in small groups only.
    Basically, treat everyone with respectful distance.
    Do not put your hands on anyone.
    Once you leave the stadium remove the gloves in receptacles and leave the premises.
    Basically that’s it. You need plenty of people monitors.
    GO BUCS!!!!

  13. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    Alvin Scissors Harper Says: June 17th, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    It might help if we could get the orange haired one to wear a freaking mask and tell all Americans to wear one as well in public.

    Agree! Science rules! Masks help slow spreading “the sickness.” Regardless of your political position, invest in reading real scientific data….for you and family health.

    Covid-19 is 5x more contagious than Flu virus…. If you get Covid-19 as a young healthy person, your lungs are changed for the rest of your life, in a negative way.

    Flu – we all have had flu….recover and no issues.

    Covid is different than FLU virus, > impact to lungs.

    Stay safe for you, your family, and respect to healthcare professionals who put their lives on the line ever day, for all of us…

  14. Durango 95 Says:

    Here’s some science for the intellectually impaired fan afraid of game day infection. Don’t go to the game.

  15. D-Rome Says:

    Bruce Arians turns 68 in October. Tom Moore will be 82 in November. According to the data, the effects of Covid-19 tend to be particularly harsh on older Americans.

    Not only that, but the highest rate of infections is the age range that most Bucs players fall under.

  16. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    Keep seeing people saying the virus is “surging” …. They are testing a lot more people is why!! The death’s from it have all but stopped!! It haven’t stopped of course but it’s way way down!! … Look of 1,000 doctors can say “protesting is wonderful during a pandemic” then we can have a dang football season!!! And another reason cases are “surging” aside from being tested more?? Gee? Let me see?? Could it be 1,000s and 1,000s of people out protesting a lie!!!?? And the left saying it’s a wonderful thing?? Police brutality is NOT some epidemic in this country and I think all REAL Americans are sick of what these “protests”have become!! Someone needs to go into CHAZ or whatever they are calling themselves now and take that place back over forcefully, tell everyone else to shut up and stop breaking the law and you won’t have any trouble!!!