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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell downplays talk of bubble, but 'all options are on the table'

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the country, the NFL continues to consider options if cases rise as January playoffs approach.

Speaking on a conference call Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is "considering a number of alternatives to meet those challenges," per Lindsay Jones of The Athletic.

"All options are on the table," Goodell said without specifically mentioning the possibility of a postseason bubble.

When asked explicitly about the league employing a postseason "bubble," Goodell's response suggested it wouldn't be similar to the style the NBA employed earlier in the year in Orlando.

A bubble, he said, is not likely "in the sense that a lot in the media focuses on it."

"We feel strongly that our protocols are working," he added.

It's possible the league could sequester playoff teams in hotels in their respective cities for postseason runs. But Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, has in the past suggested there were even concerns with such a plan given that an outbreak could then overtake an entire team.

With the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the NFL is also seeing an uptick in positives, as evidenced by the outbreak in Baltimore that caused the Ravens-Steelers game to be postponed three times. The league's medical personnel insists the protocols in place are working when followed.

"Our protocols are not failing," Sills noted, adding that compliance is a place where the league clubs can improve.

Goodell said the NFL is committed to finishing up the season as scheduled and will follow the science while sticking to the implemented protocols.

"Let me be crystal clear: Health decisions will take precedence over competitive and business interests," he said. "We follow the facts. We follow the science and the recommendations of our medical experts are first and foremost, the bedrock of our scheduling decision."

Finishing the campaign is something Goodell is confident can be done and can be done with the players' safety in mind, something he reiterated in an interview that aired at halftime of the Ravens-Steelers game on Wednesday.

"We do think it's safe to continue," Goodell said. "Listen, there's challenges. We're seeing virus spread and increase in our communities and so that's a challenge for us. We believe that the protocols that we've established are working. We're gonna continue to evaluate and see what improvements we can continue to make as we did just last week. And we'll do that. Obviously, our objective is to finish 256 games safely."

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