When the Miami Dolphins signed star defensive back Byron Jones to one of the richest contracts in free agency, there’s no doubt that everyone from fans in South Florida to the Miami coaching staff to Jones himself were budding with anticipation as they awaited the former Cowboy’s first game in aqua and orange. As we all know by now, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the start of the NFL season, and Jones’ potential debut in Miami, very much at risk.
Over the course summer, the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have been hard at work trying to find a way to safely allow players, coaches, and team staff members to take the field this upcoming season. Now, as training camp and the start of the regular season draw near, tensions and anxiety are rising as both sides attempt to find the best ways to financially, logistically, and most importantly safely sort out the details around playing football this year. Per Jones’ Twitter account, the newly minted Dolphin has one message for everyone involved in potentially launching the 2020-2021 NFL season: “We just want to play football. Make it happen.”
Frustrating to hear the NFL has yet to address major issues regarding player health + safety with training being 2 weeks away. We just want to play football. Make it happen @NFL— Byron Jones (@Byron31Jump) July 9, 2020
Jones didn’t stop there in voicing his frustration with the current lack of certainty surrounding many details of the upcoming NFL season. After esteemed ESPN reporter Adam Schefter Tweeted that the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans are still awaiting clearance from the NFL regarding their potential training camp start date of July 18th, Jones retweeted Schefter with the response, “The NFL had 5 months to prepare...”
The NFL had 5 months to prepare... https://t.co/0B2CmZYzyr— Byron Jones (@Byron31Jump) July 13, 2020
Though Jones is right in some respect, these are clearly unprecedented times, and we’ve seen from the circus that has been the NBA’s attempt to restart that there’s really no perfect answer here, especially when the sport of football involves extreme levels of contact and (apologies for the imagery here) exchange of bodily fluids.
The NFL is taking as many precautionary steps as possible to allow football to be played safely this year. Though some new rules (such as the banning of jersey swaps) seem inconsistent with the actual level of contact that is bound to take place on the football field, the league’s partnership with Oakley to creative safer face masks and its new rules regarding travel and scheduling provide some level of hope that maybe, just maybe, the league can pull this off.
Of course, no matter what, health and safety are paramount. Here’s to hoping we get to see Jones safely line up across from Xavien Howard and the rest of the Dolphins’ revamped defense come September.