DENVER • The NFL issued health safety protocols Monday for its return to team facilities.
Wait till you get a load of this.
Among the requirements are hand-sanitizing stations in every room, weightlifting limited to groups of 15 and, my personal favorite, lockers 6 feet apart in locker rooms. Seeing how training camp features 90 players before the first cut day, that’s one enormous locker room.
Having joined a few thousand people alongside the Broncos in a march through downtown Denver on Saturday, I have an easier suggestion: Call it a peaceful protest room.
Then the coronavirus goes away.
With each passing day, the coronavirus lockdowns forced on Americans look more and more like poppycock. If someone can explain why we’ve been limited in one form or another for months on end, and suddenly it’s OK to yell and sweat and breathe on each other, I’m all ears. Otherwise this is one of the most nonsensical and damaging episodes of political grandstanding in a generation.
OK: Marching arm-in-arm with a total stranger, who may spend their downtime licking doorknobs, as long as it’s for a worthy cause.
Not OK: Husbands joining their wives at pregnancy screenings or using the open-air putting greens at a Denver city golf course.
Denver has finally come to its senses — or relaxed its political agenda — by opening city park basketball courts so our kids can hoop. Good on Colorado Springs for studying the actual coronavirus metrics and using common sense long before.
Now let’s do the NFL.
OK: Blocking, tackling, handoffs, chest bumping, stiff-arming. You know, physical-contact football stuff.
Not OK: sharing clothes, certain personnel using the same entrance, lockers closer than 6 feet.
Does any of this make sense? Anyone?
Fingers crossed no one contracted COVID-19 at the demonstration the Broncos led Saturday. It was an impressive display of leadership with Jerry Attaochu, Alexander Johnson and Justin Simmons giving speeches that offered up ideas for positive change. The Broncos showed what a peaceful protest is all about. Be proud that’s your squad.
But these mandates that allow (or allowed) events that support one agenda — while shaming another, such as the protests of forced restaurant closures — are no less hypocritical. The partisan response to one and not the other is further eroding trust in experts and media.
Back to the NFL. Its safety precautions would make sense in March, when we knew so little about the coronavirus. But it’s not March anymore. It’s June 9. On Saturday, Colorado, a state with 5.7 million residents, saw just eight new hospitalizations due to COVID-19. From Wednesday to Saturday, it saw an average of 15 new hospitalizations per day, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The World Health Organization now says that asymptomatic spread of the coronavirus is “very rare,” according to a report Monday on CNBC.
And still the NFL needs 6 feet between lockers during an August training camp? On the bright side, if there’s not enough space at the UCHealth Training Center, I know a city with a giant convention center that’s still completely empty.
Maybe Drew Lock can fist pound the big blue bear on his way out to practice.
Seriously, what are we doing here? One week Broncos safety Kareem Jackson is saying the conditions must be “100-percent safe” in order for players to return to football. (When is football ever 100-percent safe, anyway?) Two weeks later Jackson helped to organize a shoulder-to-shoulder march with thousands of strangers. As the mass of humanity squished together under the Coyote Ugly Saloon at Denver Pavilions — some masked, some not — I felt even prouder to be an American.
I am eternally in favor of the First Amendment and peaceful protest. Let ‘em hear you.
I also felt entirely misled by the chicken littles who proclaimed we’re all going to die when Lake of the Ozarks filled up, a Douglas County restaurant reopened and Florida’s beaches were packed full. Since the end results weren’t as widely shared on social media, here were the headlines that followed two weeks after the fact.
No new COVID-19 cases from Lake of the Ozarks crowds, Missouri health director says (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Restaurants given OK to reopen in Douglas, Teller and Fremont counties under strict rules (The Gazette)
NBA owners set a July 31 restart, all in Florida (New York Times)
So it’s loud and clear: Go protest! If you seek change, what a tremendous way to make it happen.
And so it’s equally loud and clear: I look forward to seeing 76,000 of our Colorado neighbors in the fresh air at the Broncos’ season opener Sept. 14.
Pack Empower Field at Mile High.
If anyone says you can’t go, tell them you’re protesting the Tennessee Titans.