Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh detailed the NFL’s COVID-19 guidelines for returning to preseason training during an interview Thursday evening with local sports station 105.7 The Fan. Harbaugh mentions early in the conversation with Jason LaCanfora that due to COVID-19 he and his staff “haven’t seen our players, in person, at all,” which has pushed the staff to utilize as much virtual communication as they can.
When asked about what steps the Ravens organization plans to take when using their training facilities amidst social distancing guidelines, Harbaugh said that expectations have to remain grounded.
“[I’ve] seen the memos on that, and to be quite honest with you it’s impossible what they’re asking us to do, humanly impossible,” Harbaugh said. “Good people, smart people are involved in this, but the way I’m reading these memos right now, you throw your hands up and you go, ‘What the heck? There’s no way this can be right.’” He also mentioned that “not even the experts know” what the actual reintegration of training will look like.
The current COVID-19 protocol the NFL is requiring includes social distancing in the locker room, meetings, weight rooms and cafeterias. Harbaugh said he is not confident maintaining those standards will be possible in a football training environment.
“I’m pretty sure the huddle is not going to be six feet spaced. Are the guys going to shower one at a time all day? Are guys going to lift weights one at a time all day?” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to space, we’re going to have masks,” Harbaugh continued, “but, you know, it’s a communication sport. We have to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice.”
“These are things the league and the [players’ association] needs to get a handle on and needs to get agreed with some common sense so we can operate in a 13-hour day in training camp,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said he wants to have procedures put into place that are fair for all 32 teams in the league. “As a coach, you don’t want to hear that you’re limiting your operations as far as preparing your team and then you hear 10 other teams aren’t paying attention to the rules and then there’s no consequence for that,” which Harbaugh said can lead to “[other teams having] an advantage on you. That’s what I don’t want to see.”
Training camps are slated to start in late July with the first preseason game, the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, to take place on August 6th. Harbaugh anticipates that guidelines will be “more realistic and practical” by that time, but still expressed irritation with the unclear direction from the NFL.
“That’s the one thing; you can tell by my voice, I’m a little frustrated with what I’m hearing there. And I think they need to get that pinned down a little better,” Harbaugh said.
The full interview can be found at the link below. https://1057thefan.radio.com/blogs/inside-access-with-jason-la-canfora-ken-weinman/john-harbaugh-on-lamar-jackson-i-expect-him-to