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A fall without football a real possibility because of COVID-19 as NFL players, others raise questions

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All this week, USA TODAY Sports will examine the possibility of a fall without football, and what that would mean in a country where the …
All this week, USA TODAY Sports will examine the possibility of a fall without football, and what that would mean in a country where the sport is king.
For the prospect of football being played this fall, Monday is noteworthy.
Rookies are expected to report for training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, the teams set to play each other Sept.10 in the NFL’s scheduled season opener.
NFL rookies for the league’s other 30 teams are expected to report Tuesday. Veterans are set to arrive at training camps July 28 as the league moves forward with its plan to play the 2020 season during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve never wavered from that,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA TODAY Sports. “It would be news if we said we aren’t playing the season. But we’ve never come close to saying that.”
Yet as COVID-19 cases spike to unprecedented levels in the United States, the possibility of fall without football is more than a notion.
The Ivy League has canceled football and all other fall sports, and the Patriot League, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Colonial Athletic Association followed suit.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they have canceled non-conference games, and there’s reason to wonder if college football players might never take the field this season.
Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, last week referred to a document he said lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable can be achieved.
“Today, sadly,” he added, “the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”
Then there are the high schools ranks, with Virginia and New Mexico having canceled football for this fall and 12 other states have delayed the season, said Bruce Howard, director of communications for the National Federation of State High School Associations. But several states remain undecided about the fall, with many decisions coming in the next few weeks.
Yet the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) continue to get closer to finalizing a deal to play the 2020 season that would culminate with Super Bowl LV on Feb.7 in Tampa Bay.
Ravina Kuller, an infectious disease expert, warns the plan could result in tragedy — the death of an NFL player.
“I’m a huge football lover,” Kuller said. “Steelers fan. I bleed yellow and black. And it pains me to see that football might not happen until next year. But those players’ health is at stake here.
“You might need to see these football players go to the ICU or end up dying for them to step back and cancel games.

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