The NFL held its annual player draft on time, though virtually. It released a full, on-time, 17-week schedule. The league has done everything it can to offer hope that the 2020 season could be a normal one despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
With each day that NFL teams including the New York Giants have to do their installs and camaraderie-building via Zoom and each bit of news we get about sports being played or not played during the pandemic, the reality that nothing about sports will be normal anytime soon.
The New York-New Jersey area remains the region of the country hardest hit by COVID-19, and the Giants are planning for the possibility that if and when they are allowed to hold a training camp it will have to be someplace deemed safer than their Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“We definitely have a plan. We’re assuming right now that we’re going to continue working virtually with the players. We’ll wait for further clarity from the league. We were told to plan [virtual meetings] through May 18, so that’s what we’re doing right now,” Judge said during a videoconference on Tuesday. “In terms of relocating, our Ops department is doing a great job right now mapping out a lot of different scenarios in terms of if for some reason we have to relocate, they’re making connections around the area, around the country, as to whatever we may need to do. We’re waiting on direction from the league in terms of when we’ll make decisions on that. Hopefully in a perfect world, we’re all back together in New Jersey training sooner than later. But we’re planning for a lot of hypotheticals to make sure if they come up, we’re not caught by surprise.”
Judge, of course, said he “would rather be in the facility than anywhere else” for training camp.
The Giants, obviously, have everything they need there. The coach, though, referenced one more factor in why staying in New Jersey would be preferable.
“These guys have off days in training camp as well. One of the advantages of being at the facility is these guys have a chance to go home see their wives and kids on the off days. That’s a big part of it,” Judge said. “Our training camp practices are open. It’s important to me that the players get to go out there and walk off the field and see their wives and kids and girlfriends on the way off the field. Spend 10 minutes of keeping things in perspective before you go in there and over-analyze everything you did on the field.”
Minimizing the health risk has to be at the forefront of all decisions.
“One thing we have to consider is, first off, the safety of our players traveling across the country. Getting on flights, traveling through cars. There are a lot of logistical things we have to consider,” Judge said. “The first thing we talked about in all of these conversations is are we 100 percent certain the players are going to remain healthy and we’re not putting anybody at risk. I have a tough time right now asking a player to fly across the country from California when I probably wouldn’t be the first one most willing to throw my two sons on a plane to go the other way.”