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The Vikings reported to training camp yesterday by taking their first of many COVID tests. The big news from this week is that rookie first-round pick Justin Jefferson was among four players placed on the newly created Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list. Beyond that, free agent defensive/nose tackle Michael Pierce also opted out of the entire 2020 season due to his concerns over contracting COVID with his size and the fact that he has asthma. 

While the team doesn’t need to report whether players like Jefferson actually have contracted COVID or if they’d just been quarantined because they were in close contact with someone who contracted COVID, this isn’t the start to the 2020 season anyone wanted and raises the question as to whether or not the season will happen. 

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A few weeks ago I wrote that the NFL should move their entire operations in 2020 to Europe to salvage the season as every other country has put COVID behind them at this point. 

The league still has time to do so, and to me it would be worth avoiding the risk of cancelling the season and forgoing nearly $10 billion dollars to do so. 

Oh, not to mention that by having a season while COVID is worse than it has ever been they are also risking the lives of their players while also essentially broadcasting to the world that money is more important than the lives of said players. 

Just look at the start of the Major League Baseball season. We made it almost a week without COVID related delays. Baseball can bounce back from that a lot easier, as they can play double-headers and add games during off times.

Football, on the other hand, has a game each week and a very rigid schedule. If a team has to cancel a game or two, would they just forfeit those games? Or would they reschedule those games for the end of the season?

Just look at this Tweet from JJ Watt from the 16th of this month to see how disorganized the league has been even though it has had the luxury of time, as well as the luxury of seeing how other leagues have handled COVID.

Granted things have changed with the NFL and NFLPA, but most of what they agreed upon is about the financial aspects of a cancelled season, or penalizing players for “high risk” behavior like going to a club/bar. 

I just re-read the released agreement and there wasn’t any mention of cancelled games, at least from the perspective of how they might be made up or how it would impact playoff scenarios. 

In a league that has the most opportunity to spread COVID by the nature of some of its positions, the most players that are large enough to be considered at higher risk for complications from COVID, the most players on each team (and thus the most opportunoty for COVID to infect and spread) and that also has the most rigid schedule of any league… 

I really can’t imagine why they haven’t moved to Europe. 

The league brings in $15 billion a season, a little over 15% of which comes from ticket sales. That means that they’d be out about $2.25 billion from ticket sales alone if they end up playing in front of empty seats (but even with social distancing, they’re going to make a fraction of that with six feet in every direction being empty). 

They could charge a premium to play in soccer arenas across Western Europe. Or, they could charge similar rates as to that of their typical rates and with the size of some of those stadiums they could actually increase that 15% while also actually increasing their global audience. Think the annual game(s) in London, but on steroids… Or, in this case, Hydroxychloroquine?

This’d benefit the Vikings as the most Euro-centrically named team in the league. And it isn’t as if the NFL has zero experience in Europe, as NFL Europe/NFL Europa/NFL Europe League/World League of American Football ran from 1991 to 2007 and at it’s peak had 10 teams. 

While they did have North American teams (in both the United States and Canada), they also had the following teams in Western Europe (according to Wikipedia):

Amsterdam Admirals1995–2007
Barcelona Dragons1991–2003
Berlin Thunder1999–2007
Cologne Centurions2004–2007
Frankfurt Galaxy1991–2007
Hamburg Sea Devils2005–2007
London/England Monarchs1991–1998
Rhein Fire1995–2007
Scottish Claymores1995–200

It wouldn’t be a stretch to feel that the Vikings would be playing every game in front of a home crowd, especially considering that Germany had multiple NFL Europe teams and that Scandinavians are Germanic people. 

So, I hate to essentially re-post a topic that I already wrote about, especially one that I covered more in-depth last time. However, what I’ve seen from the first couple days of camp, as well as what has happened in Major League Baseball, makes me think that unless the NFL considers this move we will either end up without a full season in 2020 or in a situation where an NFL player loses their life.

First off, that’d be absolutely terrible on a human level. But it seems like a totally avoidable situation, as the league doesn’t need to play period and it doesn’t need to play in the middle of multiple literal pandemic hot spots. 

The last thing the league needs is the impression/reality that it literally puts money over the literal lives of its players, even if there is value to bringing sports back to promote some form of normalcy in the US. However, things aren’t normal, they’re worse than ever and by all indications things will be way worse by the middle of the season as COVID is still spreading like the Wildcat in 2007 in the middle of the summer.

There’s a reason that the flu or common cold aren’t prevalent during the summer and that’s mostly due to the fact that humidity helps limit the spread of airborne viruses. When fall and winter hit, and people move their ill-advised beach keggers into confined spaces, the number of COVID cases will undoubtedly increase especially as we still have little to know actual federal plan to stop a nation-wide pandemic. 

If sports leagues with less players, less contact and thus less chances for the spread of the virus during games, more flexible schedules and less players that could end up with severe complications either paused, delayed or cancelled their seasons back when COVID wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now (or as bad as it seemingly will be) then what chance does the NFL have to complete the entire season? 

JJ Watts’ Tweet shows that the NFL, like always, seems disorganized and reactive. Sadly, they may have to wait until something terrible happens before attempting to perhaps move to… Anywhere, to complete the 2020 season. 

Instead, they should look at the fact that some countries (with far less money, access to healthcare, etc.) have gone without a new case for almost two months and consider moving the 2020 season to those places. 

It would increase revenue (or limit the loss of it) when compared to a full 2020 season, keep players much safer and ensure that the season would actually take place while limiting the possibility of a player or coach either dying or developing lasting consequences from COVID. 

I’ll be promoting the hashtag #NFLEurope in the meantime while rocking my MoBo jersey. 

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