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In the last week there have been plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the upcoming NFL season. 

Many players have opted out of the 2020 season, including Eagles WR Marquise Goodwin. Even more have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning they’ve either tested positive or have been exposed to someone that has. The Eagles placed three players on that list on Wednesday. 

And the NFL is also watching Major League Baseball as the Marlins outbreak has affected several teams. 

Despite all that, the NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told the Houston Chronicle he’s still “cautiously optimistic” about the 2020 season. 

“I remain cautiously optimistic because we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and energy with these protocols and preparing, trying to mitigate risk to the best that we can,” Sills said. 

“At the same time, we have to realize that this is going to be hard. This is going to be really hard because this is a tough opponent. This virus is a highly contagious virus, and it remains very endemic across our country. 

“It’s going to be a real challenge for us at every level of the league, but our teams are very committed to this. I know our players are very invested, as are all of our coaches and staff. We’re all going to put our very best foot forward to try to mitigate risk and see if we can carry forward and coexist with a virus. As much as we’d like it to go away, I think it’s clear that it’s unlikely to be eradicated at any time in the near future.” 

The biggest hurdle for the NFL is obviously the lack of a bubble scenario. 

ESPN broke down the reasons why the NFL landed on a plan that didn’t include a bubble, similar to what the NBA has used.

Sills is calling the NFL’s plan a “virtual football bubble” but that’s pretty similar to what MLB has been using to varying levels of success so far. 

If the NFL were to have a team deal with an outbreak similar to what the Marlins are going through right now, what happens then? What if multiple players and coaches test positive during the season? What if games need to be canceled or postponed? 

There are a lot of questions and a lot of hypothetical situations to worry about. 

Sills stressed the need to “remain flexible and adaptable” and said they’ll evaluate on a case-by-case basis. 

“Every situation is unique,” Sills said to the Chronicle, “but we’re going to have a significant amount of data that we’re going to collect via our testing and our contact tracing, and we’ll work together with the Players Association, with the infectious disease experts, with epidemiologists and public health authorities, including the CDC, and we’ll make the best decision about what is the safest for our players and all our personnel at each step along the way.” 

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