NFL safety protocols create ‘challenges’ but it’s a sacrifice to get Jaguars on the field

Jaguars player Josh Allen reports for training camp and COVID-19 testing at TIAA Bank Field.
Jaguars player Josh Allen reports for training camp and COVID-19 testing at TIAA Bank Field.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Going to work never was never this involved.

Welcome to the NFL in 2020.

For Jaguars players, coaches and staff, it’s now a necessary part of the daily process to make sure that NFL teams can stay healthy during a global pandemic.

What does a normal morning look like for members of the Jaguars?

The day starts with a questionnaire on their phone. If things check out there, it’s on to TIAA Bank Field for the next round of checks. There, players are scanned by a thermal imaging camera to test for temperature. All personal items are sanitized and wiped down when they come in. Phones. Wallets. Keys.

If players pass that checkpoint, they move on to the next step and make their way to a security guard. If they received a passing result on their questionnaire, they can then move on to the testing trailer.

There, players are swabbed for COVID-19. Results are available by the following day. From the test center, players then head to the contract tracing desk and pick up a digital tracking device that must be worn while on the premises.

If all of those steps check out, players can finally get access to the team facility.

Repeat those steps daily.

Scott Trulock, the Jaguars director of player health and performance, said it has been a learning experience for everyone but is what needs to be done for the team to be able to get out on the field.

“The ultimate goal is for us to be able to do our jobs and to put a product on the field, put a championship team on the field and that’s our mission,” and so all of this obviously creates challenges but I think to every staff member and player, our interest is can we do this in a way that protects all of us and we’re able to put that product on the field.”

The safety protocol is everywhere.

The Jaguars added an 1,800-square foot auxiliary weight room that has helped players work out while spacing out properly. The team has also made players, coaches and staff members wear a digital tracker called a Kinexon SafeTag, which is a sensor meant to monitor data like social distancing. It’s also meant to help the Jaguars with contact tracing efforts should someone in the facility show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone showed off the SafeTag during a recent press conference, one of the many noticeable changes around the facility this year.

“One of the things is that you can see that it just flashed blue which means that I am in good physical distance from everyone that’s involved. When it flashes red, then I know I’m too close to someone and so I can take two or three steps back until it flashes blue,” he said.

The Jaguars have loaded up on keeping facilities as clean as possible. The team said that 115,000 square feet of the team facility, from weight rooms to locker rooms and offices are cleaned electrostatically every night

For media covering the team, it’s a change, too. Media members must undergo testing for COVID-19 and have two negative tests within a 72-hour period to qualify for limited access should practice move indoors to the Flex Field.

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