The Falcons have already had three players hit the reserve/COVID-19 list, where they’ll need two negative tests for the virus to return to the team. That’s not ideal, to say the least, and obviously we’re waiting for all the other shoes to drop given how contagious this thing is. We just watched it march through the Marlins in MLB, so we’re fully aware of what can happen if teams aren’t really trying to slow its spread.
How are the Falcons handling it, managing containment, and keeping players and staff as spaced out as possible? We will never have all the details on that from outside the building, but it sounds like Atlanta’s done a nice job of building out the team facility in Flowery Branch to weather this, per Matt Ryan.
Ryan went on ProFootballTalk’s PM show with Mike Florio to talk about this very topic, among others. I’d like to credit D. Orlando Ledbetter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the transcription here because I am way too out of it to effectively transcribe this morning:
“We’re lucky that we’ve got a lot of space, a massive set up for us to be able to kind of space out and make sure that are kind up to code on all of the protocols,” Ryan said. “We have these kind of townhomes that we stay in during training camp that are built right behind our facility which we are able to use as our locker rooms right now. We each have our own individual bathroom, bed and changing area, all that kind of stuff.
“We’re uniquely built to kind of handle this. Our staff here has done an amazing job of trying to make it as safe as possible for everybody and I appreciated them doing that.”
Obviously players being together on the field, to say nothing of staff, presents a unique problem that every team is going to be struggling with. Given that Keith Smith and Jamal Carter, who ESPN’s Vaughn McClure reports both have tested positive for COVID-19, haven’t spent much time in the Branch yet there’s reason to believe they picked it up elsewhere and may not have had the opportunity to spread it. We’ll see whether that’s true in the coming days, obviously, but it’s encouraging to hear Ryan talk up the way the team is going about this and we’ll hope it’s effective.
The team’s franchise quarterback also touched on the old Super Bowl vs. Hall of Fame bust debate (he wants the ring), opting out (he encourages players with at-risk family and friends to think about it but doesn’t feel like his situation demands it), and the lack of preseason games (Dan Quinn’s trying to figure out the best way to simulate the run-up to games, if not the games themselves). It’s a spectacularly weird and frustrating offseason, but I’m going to try to be like Ryan and be as chipper as possible about it until we just can’t be anymore.