The NFL could have a bubble after all, but not until January.
During a conference call with reporters, NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton suggested instituting a postseason bubble during the latest competition committee call.
Per Vincent, the NFL isn't ruling out the possibility of using a playoff bubble, noting all things are being considered.
Any sort of "bubble" scenario would need support from the players' union.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers asked during an NFLPA conference call last month about a player testing positive during Super Bowl week. Instituting a bubble for the playoffs could be a method to ensure the fairest postseason for all teams. We've seen the NBA and NHL have great success with the bubbles they've created to conduct their postseason competitions.
As with everything COVID-19 related, a lot could change in the coming months. It's possible if the season goes well, the league might not deem a bubble necessary. It's also possible that teams could be left to create their own insulation situations come January.
Other notes from Wednesday's conference call:
The NFL confirmed it would use an advisory committee of former GMs, head coaches and players to advise Commissioner Roger Goodell on things like postponements, outbreaks, etc., per NFL Network's Judy Battista. The league acknowledged using the Competition Committee for such decisions could create conflicts of interest.
Vincent added that the league is still working out potential seeding issues that could arise if games are postponed or canceled and there becomes unbalanced schedules, including an uneven number of division games that could skew the standings.
NFL medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said the development of a new saliva COVID-19 test is an "exciting development" but noted the league is monitoring at this point.
"The biggest consideration for us is always the accuracy of the test. How good is the test?" Sills said, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to adjust testing protocol, removing any player or staff member who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis from the testing pool for 90 days, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports. The change falls in line with CDC guidelines. All other protocols will still apply for such players or staff.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero later reported a key change in the latest travel protocols agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA that will impact how players access food while on the road. He added that, per an informed source, the NFL Management Council told clubs they must complete the travel and game-day portions of their infectious disease emergency response plans by Aug. 28; teams are being encouraged to do so ASAP, though, in order for approvals to be in place by the kickoff game (Sept. 10.)