NFL informs teams training camp to open as scheduled

The NFL has advised teams that training camps are expected to begin as scheduled July 28 with rookies and selected players permitted to report earlier, league executive vice president, general counsel Jeff Pash said on a conference call Thursday.

The league held a virtual meeting with owners Thursday to address a number of topics, including training camps, 2020 season planning amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, "Inspire Change" social justice programs and workplace diversity.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters following the meeting that in addition to training camps opening as planned, the league's focus is to "get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners." Goodell added that talks are ongoing with the NFLPA over specifics.

Earlier this month the NFL issued guidelines for protocols and procedures for when players could eventually return to team facilities. The guidelines need to be agreed to by the NFLPA, and NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills later acknowledged that protocols are still being developed as the science around COVID-19 evolves.

Sills said Thursday that the league is setting up a "very ambitious testing program," but he added that "testing alone will not be sufficient to keep everyone healthy. It's vitally important to keep social distances and use masks when possible."

Among other topics discussed during Thursday's meeting was a new major NFL voting education and registration initiative. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the league is developing programs that will focus on education, registration and activation and working with the NFLPA, the Players Coalition and others (RISE, US Vote Foundation, etc.).

"Our goal is for everyone associated with the NFL to register to vote and vote and inspire others," NFL senior VP of social responsibility Anna Isaacson said. "… We all have a shared right and obligation to go vote."

In addition, NFL executive vice president of football ops Troy Vincent told reporters that all 32 teams will be given anti-racism training in July.

NFL owners also voted to tarp off seats in stadiums near the field to keep distancing between players, people on the sideline and fans, per Rapoport. Teams are permitted to sell the that space to advertisers.

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