Right now, who is the most important person in the New York Giants Football organization? Is it Joe Judge? Is it Saquon Barkley? Maybe Daniel Jones?
How about Ronnie Barnes, Senior Vice President of Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer.
Immediately following performing the medical evaluations of the 2020 draft prospects at the Combine in early March, Ronnie Barnes began to develop the Giants’ game plan for mitigating and dealing with what was shaping up to be a pandemic called Coronavirus SARS-2.
There's a Hall of Fame for Athletic Trainers, and Ronnie Barnes is in it ?#NFLFilmsPresents: Ronnie Barnes | @Giants pic.twitter.com/F2uG7zfZ5E— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 12, 2019
The Giants closed their facilities on March 24th and sent all staff home to perform their jobs via telework. Long before that closure, Ronnie Barnes was attacking the challenge of keeping all Giants personnel safe and healthy.
New Look Giants’ Facility for 2020
Ronnie Barnes and Victor McLoughlin, the Giants Director of Facilities and Construction, have spent much of the last three months preparing and revamping the Giants’ facilities to be in compliance with CDC, NFL and Government directives for providing a safe working environment for all Giants employees to include players, coaches, and all staff. Ronnie provided this short video via Giants.com on the improvements and measures the organization has taken to bring the Giants’ family together for 2020.
On June 3, 2020, the Giants entered Phase 1 of their re-integration plan to return safely to work at Quest Diagnostics Center. Phase 1 involved the return of about 20-30 of the administrative staff and some football operations people including GM Dave Gettleman. Since the implementation of Phase 1, there have been no reports of any COVID-19 cases within the Giants organization. It’s a good sign. But, it’s a very limited subset of the Giants’ staff and employee base. Ronnie Barnes remains optimistic that the Giants can mitigate the challenges of COVID-19 as the team comes together.
No one on the coaching staff will be allowed to enter the facility until the NFL gives approval. The NFL is going to great lengths to try to ensure a level playing field for all 32 teams going to the 2020 season. The NFL has not made public the date at which coaching staff may return to the team facility.
Will the Giants be able to come together as a team on the field in July?
While the Giants are done with any organized virtual team meetings and events until training camp opens in late July, there are reports of player-coordinated practice sessions popping up in states that are currently allowing social gatherings and relaxed social distancing practices. It was reported that Daniel Jones had coordinated a players-only series of practices in Texas which included quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. There is another report of Saquon Barkley participating in player-organized practice sessions in California involving many players of multiple teams.
Regardless of where people independently stand with COVID-19, social distancing, face masks, and other preventative measures, there is hope that the fans can see NFL football in September. They may only be able to see the games on TV, but there is still hope that football can be played on time in the 2020 season. However, there are still so many issues and challenges to resolve before teams and fans can have confidence the season can begin as scheduled by the NFL.
What’s the reality of football starting in September? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been the USA’s voice of medical input regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s not so sure a season of NFL football can, or should be played. Dr. Fauci is also on record that the season should end before November to ensure the anticipated increase/return of a second COVID-19 season does not adversely impact players, coaches, and fans. The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills, was more positive and stated the NFL will need to remain flexible in adjusting its plans based on the factors that develop over time.
Recent Outbreaks of COVID-19 Across the USA Not Encouraging
As of this writing, there are spikes in COVID-19 cases that are impacting several states. Also as of this writing, there are other sports trying to start or restart their sport right now. Baseball, for example, has recently closed all spring training facilities due to outbreaks of COVID-19 in multiple facilities.
Even though MLB and MLBPA just agreed to play a 60-game season, with games starting on July 24, there is no guarantee the season will be completed without interruption. In fact, the Toronto Blue Jays still have to figure out where to play given the restrictions for travel in place today.
Giants Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best
For the Giants, Ronnie Barnes and his staff have done everything possible to get the Giants’ facilities ready to receive all personnel.
The COVID-19 virus and the continued outbreak as Summer begins will continue to dictate how and when sports will be able to resume.
Right now, Ronnie Barnes is the lead player in combating any challenge to the fans seeing Giants football in 2020.
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