Without A Bubble, Quinn Says 'Trust' And Maturity Key To NFL Season

"Am I concerned? Obviously. This is a big unknown."

Will Burchfield
July 29, 2020 - 11:29 am
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The Lions went through their first round of testing for COVID-19 Tuesday in preparation for training camp, and GM Bob Quinn said Wednesday it went "really smoothly." So far, the team has no opt-outs or positive tests to report. 

So far, so good. 

But Quinn knows there's still a long way to go. A few poor decisions on the part of the players -- or anyone else involved with the team on a daily basis -- could throw the whole thing off course.

"We've hammered this home with our staff, our players, everybody: testing is only one step," Quinn said. "We can't protect against the virus from just testing. It’s about education, No. 1, it’s about PPE and it’s about contact tracing. All of those things are just as important as the testing."

Players with negative tests will report to the team facility on Saturday, after which they'll be tested every day for the next two weeks. Inside the building, they should be safe. The Lions have scrubbed the place clean. They've installed a new air filtration system at the recommendation of doctors. They have hand-sanitizing stations galore, they have Plexiglass dividers between lockers, they have open-air coolers like you see in the grocery store. 

"We have Clorox 360 sprayers -- think of a Ghostbusters-type backpack with a spray unit," said Quinn. "That's what our cleaning staff will do multiple times every day to clean down the building, especially the high-touch areas." 

It's what happens beyond those walls that could determine the viability of this season. The NFL and NFLPA have barred players from going to places like night clubs, bars and churches that allow attendance at more than 25 percent capacity. But without operating in a bubble like the NBA and the NHL, there's no way of ensuring everyone follows those rules. 

"We have a bubble once you walk into the facility, but it goes back to the education. That’s the huge thing," said Quinn. "I feel comfortable waling into this facility every day because I know everybody around me is going to be tested all the time. What I don’t know is what people are going to be doing when they leave and go home. So we have to have a lot of trust, a lot of education and a lot of mature decision-making when people leave the facility." 

Lions LB Jamie Collins has raised some concerns about young players in particular. He's not sure they'll approach the situation with the same caution as the veterans. Major League Baseball has already offered a cautionary tale in the Marlins, whose season has been paused for at least a week after the virus ripped through their roster. It bears mention MLB isn't operating in a bubble either. 

By comparison, Quinn believes the Lions and the NFL have a more comprehensive testing program. That will help. Then it's on the players -- and everyone else -- to do their part. 

"Am I concerned? Obviously. This is a big unknown," he said. "But we’ll do the best we can and we feel like, at least for the Lions, we have a good plan in place for the facility to keep everybody safe. And then it goes back to education, making safe and healthy decisions when you’re away from the facility."