Ravens coach John Harbaugh calls parts of NFL's return protocols 'humanly impossible'

Andrew Gillis
NBC Sports Washington

Earlier this week, the NFL announced plans with protocols of how teams should reopen facilities safely in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Count Ravens coach John Harbaugh as one person opposed to some of the plans.

On a radio show with Ken Weinman and Jason La Canfora on 105.7 The Fan's Inside Access Harbaugh blasted parts of the league's return policy, describing them as "impossible."

"The other part of the thing is how we're going to operate in the building," Harbaugh said. "Nobody knows. And the experts don't know. I've seen all the memos on that, and I'll be honest with you, it's impossible what they're asking us to do. Humanly impossible."

The NFL informed teams that there will be no in-person minicamps and that they're considering shortening the preseason to make a return to the field as safe and effective as possible.

"We're going to do everything we can do, we're going to space, we're going to have masks, but this is a communication sport," Harbaugh continued. "(If) we want to get out there and actually have any idea of what we're doing on the field, we've got to be able to communicate with each other in person."

Harbaugh added Weinman and La Canfora he clearly wasn't happy at all with the plans, as evidenced by his tone, but raised concerns about how effective social distancing can be at an NFL facility.

"I'm pretty sure the huddle is not going to be six feet spaced," Harbaugh said. "Are guys going to shower one at a time all day? Are guys going to lift weights one at a time all day? These are things the league and the PA need to get a handle on and need to get agreed with some common sense so we can operate in a 13-hour day in training camp that they're giving us and get our work done."


The NFL and NFLPA have just over a month-and-a-half to get their plans right for a sensible return to play plan. Before then, however, the coronavirus pandemic will have another six weeks or so of spread, or containment.

"Now maybe we'll know more in two months and they'll be able to be a little more realistic and practical in what they're asking," Harbaugh said. "I expect that to be the case. I think good people, smart people are involved in this. But the way I'm reading these memos right now, you throw your hands up and you go, ‘Well, what the heck? There's no way we can be right.'"

The Ravens' Under Armour Performance Center is located in Owings MIlls, Maryland and was renovated in 2017. La Canfora remarked that the facility is one of the league's best, so while the Ravens might be afforded the opportunity to execute the plan effectively, other teams might not be as lucky.

In a way, that could turn out to hurt the Ravens.

"We'll be in a better position to do it than most, and we'll do as good a job or better than everybody else - I 100 percent guarantee that, because we'll be very thoughtful of it," Harbaugh said. "But as a coach, you don't want to hear that you're limiting your operations as far as preparing your team and then you hear 10 other teams aren't paying attention to the rules then there's no consequence for that, and then they have an advantage on you. That's what I don't want to see. I just think it needs to be fair and it needs to be reasonable. I do believe they'll find a way to do that."

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh calls parts of NFL's return protocols 'humanly impossible' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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