Commentary: Dolphins, NFL must be rattled by Marlins coronavirus outbreak
There was Tua Tagovailoa, obviously cleared to report after his coronavirus tests, entering the Dolphins training facility in a video posted on the official team Twitter account on Monday.
But at the same time, it was being reported the Marlins’ scheduled flight home was canceled. And soon after, that their home opener was canceled. And soon after that, that at least 14 Marlins had tested positive for coronavirus.
This was a debilitating blow to the psyche of sports fans everywhere, including those in coronavirus-ravaged South Florida, which had been emboldened by the re-start of the NBA, and MLS, where bubble strategies had been paying dividends.
The Marlins, off to a 2-1 start, might not be so terrible! It won’t be long before Tua becomes the face of the franchise!
But Major League Baseball has no bubble. And the NFL won’t either.
This is going to be really, really hard to pull off. And that realization probably caused pits in sports fans’ stomachs to ache a whole lot more as news of the Marlins’ tests trickled out Monday.
“They’re not going to be able to get through the season,” one NFL player told the Post recently. “Do you know how fast a cold runs through an NFL locker room?”
This was one player’s opinion. And despite widespread doubts and concerns, few can blame the league and its players for trying to pull this off. There is too much money on the line, and yes, the return of sport is a positive on many levels for this country.
The league and the union have come up with some pretty strict rules. The players could be subject to discipline if they’re seen at a party or a night club or even a place of worship.
Should “picking up wings at a strip club” have been more specifically detailed in the agreement? Such specificity may have aided Lou Williams of the Clippers.
The preseason games will be canceled. There are limited training camp rosters. And there will be a barrage of tests, distributed masks and socially-distant meetings. But the virus doesn’t care that football season is almost here.
The virus doesn’t care about politics and it doesn’t care, apparently, about weather, and there’s so much we don’t yet fully even understand. What we do know is it’s frightening. And scary. And alarming.
And that does not mean I’m rooting against football (my livelihood depends on it) or that I think we should put the entire country on lockdown. It means that I’m a realist. And it would be foolish to see what has happened with the Marlins and not wonder how that might impact the Dolphins and the NFL.
The virus does not distinguish between you or I traveling on an airplane and a football player or coach traveling on an airplane, if one - even just one person - on that plane is a potential spreader.
The virus does not distinguish between your kids being exposed to sweat and blood and saliva from other kids on the playground and NFL players exposing each other to just that on a Sunday or Monday night.
Baseball, where the most important players begin each play 60 feet, 6 inches, away from each other, didn’t make it one week without a coronavirus outbreak.
In the NFL, players are often 60 inches away from each other. How long will we go without a practice, a game or a week canceled? I’m rooting for the entire season. I’m fearing not long at all.
Miami had added 11 free agents and drafted 11 players and they will probably need them all this season. Coaches often speak about “next man up” and it’s annoying and cliche, though not really in 2020.
Would it surprise anybody if on a Friday or a Saturday or even a Sunday morning an entire NFL starting offensive line tests positive and/or shows significant symptoms and is replaced by backups and practice squadders?
It is not ideal but players like Julien Davenport-Michael Deiter-Donnell Stanley-Solomon Kindley-Adam Pankey must all be ready mentally, physically and emotionally to play, at a moment’s notice, because would it stun anybody if that was actually Miami’s offensive line one game this season?
The Dolphins tweeted out videos of player after player entering the team facility, with the purpose, of course, of generating enthusiasm and excitement. Football is almost back! There was Austin Jackson and Curtis Weaver and Malcolm Perry and even some veterans like DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Bobby McCain and Jakeem Grant.
All veterans don’t officially report until Tuesday. But some veterans who had been injured as well as quarterbacks were allowed in earlier. It will be mostly strength and conditioning until August 12.
But what will the world look like then? Will coronavirus be any better or worse in South Florida, and in Florida, and in our country?
Players aren’t going to begin padded practices until August 17. What will the world look like then? Will the Marlins have remedied their coronavirus outbreak? Will baseball have been further interrupted?
I wondered if Miami would post photos or videos of players entering the team facility because it’s fun to see. Well, usually fun to see. In this case, the players walked past some warning signs, including questioning if they were feeling sick and reminding them only Tier 1 and Tier 2 (players who have passed tests) could enter.
You wanted to smile because football players were entering a team facility to do football things. But then you thought about the Marlins situation. You looked at those videos and you wanted to see them smile, but because they wore masks, you couldn’t tell if they were.
— Joe Schad is a writer for the Palm Beach Post and can be reached at email@example.com.