JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Gary from St. Augustine, FL
The NFL will be testing players for COVID-19 soon. I sense a true disaster when that happens.
I don't sense looming disaster – not yet and not season-threating disaster. NFL players indeed are in the process of reporting to training camp, with rookies reporting this week and veterans reporting next week. There undoubtedly will be players who report with positive COVID-19 tests, which undoubtedly will cause much consternation among media and observers. But the NFL isn't nearly as concerned about the numbers when players report as it is concerned with what happens after that. If a slew of players tests positive upon reporting, those players will be isolated from the team until they test negative twice and will then be allowed to return. It's what happens in the ensuing weeks – once training camp begins and all players are part of the COVID-19 protocols – that's a bigger concern. If there are high numbers of positives tests at that point, then it will be a concern – and perhaps disastrous to the chances of a complete NFL season. If the numbers aren't high, perhaps disaster will be averted.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville
You said you see eventually the stadiums getting back to capacity. I would disagree. I think the whole virus thing has changed our world permanently and there is no going back. The reality is the virus is much like the flu, which will never really go away but will have its ups/downs based on seasons. That being the case, people are going to be reluctant to gather in large groups in the future. I also believe we might be seeing the beginnings of a financial shift with the very visible importance being seen of our medical staff, teachers, police and other "essential" careers out there. The perception is shifting on where our priorities as a society need to be. So hypothetically speaking: if the virus situation doesn't change, and the NFL has to maintain 25 – or even 50 percent – capacity for the future, how do they survive? I mean we can't possibly raise prices that much. Smaller stadiums? PPV for game viewing? It would stand to reason the NFL has a lot to be considering with all that is going on.
I would be stunned if NFL stadiums stay at 25 or 50 percent capacity for the long-term. If that were to happen, the NFL would survive primarily by adjusting the salary cap – a salary cap that already is based on percentage of revenue. Players' salaries in the past two-and-a-half decades have risen dramatically based on rising revenue; they theoretically can fall based on falling revenue. Still: let's emphasize "theoretically" when having this discussion. I would be surprised if revenue falls for long. And I would be surprised if we see significant reduction of NFL players' salaries.
Mark from Prescott, AZ
John. Are NFL teams going to allow media-type and writer-type people into the training camp to observe?
Chris from Houston, TX
With news breaking that teams' rosters will be 80 players, does that mean the roster for the regular season will be 80? I know in a normal season the roster is 53 with a few players designated for not active on game days. How many of the 80 will be not active during each gameday?
As it currently stands, regular-season rosters would still be 53 with a practice squad. Forty-six players would be active on game day. What has yet to be determined is the size of practice squads and reserve "eligible-to-return" squads. Those reportedly will be larger than in previous seasons to allow teams to deal with potential COVID-19 outbreaks. So, yeah … total roster size including practice-squad and reserves/eligible-to-return squads could push toward 80 this season. Absolutely.
Stevie from Duval
If them Duval Dozen all make the Pro Bowl, do you think Jags are going to playoffs?
The Duval Dozen is the Jaguars' 12-man 2020 draft class, so … yes.
Nicholas from Fort Hood, TX
KOAF: I never heard about the Mark Brunell pass into a tree story during practice and I can only imagine what Tom Coughlin was thinking (maybe a fine for environmental damage)? What are some of your favorite, zany, ridiculous stories about the Jaguars? For me the "clubhouse axe" injury in 2003 is ridiculous, Big John Henderson (former defensive lineman) being slapped by a puny trainer is zany, and Morten Anderson missing a game winning chip shot field goal in the '96 season and seeing Mickey Washington running down the sidelines by the fans is my favorite and makes me shed a tear or two of joy.
I don't know if this is zany, but I remember it well. Brian DeMarco, a guard on those early teams, once was so angry at me after a late-season game in Detroit in 1995 that I wondered if he would hit me with the helmet he held in his hand. I got along well with DeMarco aside from the incident, and I don't know if the story resonates with everyone as "zany," but seeing an angry 300-pound lineman with a helmet menacingly in his grip is an image that sticks with you.
Steve from Hilton Head, SC
John, please explain to me why it's OK to buy $10,000 of living room furniture - that I'm not allowed to sit on, but it's not OK for me to buy $1,000 of TaylorMade irons that I will use almost every day?
Steven from Ponte Vedra, FL
What are the chances of Luq Barcoo making the team?
Barcoo, a cornerback from San Diego State University, is one of multiple collegiate free agents who seem to have a good chance to make the roster. He was highly coveted after the draft, and the Jaguars were pleased to sign him. Considering the numbers and need for depth at cornerback, I expect him to either be on the roster or to be on the practice squad with a very good chance of being signed to the active roster quickly.
Lewis from Jacksonville
Best football movie ever ... "Knute Rockne, All-American." If nothing else, it's a good history lesson about the game and how it has progressed.
Chris from Mandarin
Many states that the Jaguars would travel to during the 2020 season have mandates for a two-week quarantine for anyone that comes in from the state of Florida. This makes the premise of playing games in those states impossible. How is the NFL going to combat this issue?
It's unlikely sports teams would be subject to this rule. New Jersey, for example, has what its governor – Phil Murphy – called a "carve-out for essential travel." Professional sports teams would qualify for the "carve out" and therefore the rule that visitors from certain states quarantine for 14 days wouldn't apply.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, out of curiosity after it was brought up in the Zone, I checked with my wife if I was often mistaken and she let me know that it was a mistake to give her yet another reminder. Maybe I should have approached that differently?
Some things don't have a solution. You did all you could.
KC from Orlando, FL
KOAF - what are your thoughts concerning the idea of cutting preseason roster to 80 from 90? I understand the idea of having fewer individuals creates more opportunity for social distancing, but won't we expect the need of having a deeper bench/reserves in case of positive cases of COVID-19? Looks like you can't have your cake and eat it too with this scenario.
The last 10 players on preseason rosters realistically are there so teams have enough players for preseason games. Those 10 therefore are realistically there to make sure teams can evaluate the 80 players who have realistic chances to make the team. But yes … there does seem to be a bit of a dilemma concerning 2020 training-camp numbers. It makes perfect sense to have fewer players for social distancing, but there seems little question a higher percentage of players on the roster/reserves will have meaningful roles – and therefore more of a need for those 80 players than years past. I also expect a larger percentage of players who are on the street during or after training camp to return and contribute. Roster turnover almost certainly will be significant in 2020. It may even be a defining characteristic of the season.
Tom from Charlottesville, VA
If a free agent sits out nine games and then signs his agreement, he would be paid for the remaining games. But if after he signs, can he claim injury and still receive his salary? It would seem that a player could receive over $7 million for not playing!
He could – in theory. But a certain recent local example notwithstanding, players rarely do this. There is strong incentive to play, particularly if the player needs to show his worth on the free-agent market.
Rob from Milton, FL