The coronavirus pandemic has created offseason inconveniences for Mark Andrews and Chuck Clark. Andrews, the Ravens’ Pro Bowl tight end, has resorted to “prison workouts” in self-isolation, pumping free weights in his backyard and running on a nearby field. Clark, a starting safety and recent father, has left his house only when necessary, careful to limit his family’s risk of exposure.
“You never know,” Clark explained, and that might as well be a mantra for NFL standouts and the billions of nonathletes alike across the globe. As COVID-19 rattles the economy and disrupts everyday life, Andrews and Clark are most concerned with what’s most important: their family and their social distancing, keeping safe and being smart. But they also have begun to reckon with the idea that there might not be a 2020 NFL season. Or at least not the one they expected.
“I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going to happen, and there’s a ton of uncertainty right now with timelines and when people are going to report and when things are going to start up,” Andrews said during a conference call Tuesday with Baltimore media. “So we’re not sure at the moment.”
“Yeah, it crosses your mind,” Clark said. “But at the end of the day, being a professional athlete, at some point, eventually, this will all clear up, and it’ll get better.”
They just don’t know when. Offseason workouts were set to begin April 20, just days before the start of the NFL draft, but Andrews said he doesn’t know how the Ravens will handle communication with their strength and conditioning staff. On Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order directing residents not to leave their homes unless it’s for an “essential” purpose.
Unlike their brethren in other professional sports leagues, Andrews and Clark haven’t been too affected by the pandemic. Clark has kept busy — working out at home, cleaning, cooking, playing card games, tending to his baby daughter. Andrews, back home in Arizona, is enjoying time with his family and a “Call of Duty” video game. He comes from a family of medical professionals, but they’ve been able to offer only so much clarity about what lies ahead.
Both want to stay safe. Both also want a return to normalcy, a chance to play in front of packed stadiums and screaming fans. “That’s what we all live for,” Clark said. As for what that might look like? Andrews wasn’t sure. Even with the Ravens’ entire coaching staff returning and limited roster turnover this offseason, he said the team won’t necessarily have an advantage while the season’s in limbo.
“I think that everyone at the same time is playing on the same playing field, so to speak, so it may be different from years past,” Andrews said. “And I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going to happen, and there’s a ton of uncertainty right now with timelines and when people are going to report and when things are going to start up, so we’re not sure at the moment.”
Team president Dick Cass told the team website last week that he hopes the Ravens will be able to return in time for training camp in late July, but the virus has already transformed the NFL’s offseason landscape. The draft will no longer be held in Las Vegas, and the league is reportedly working on a “virtual solution” for its broadcast. Team officials have been ordered to work from home. Pro days have been canceled. Almost all air travel has been suspended.
The Ravens know the NFL season could be the next domino to fall.
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“There’s so much uncertainty during this time, and you look ahead and you ask yourself if there’s going to be a football season,” Andrews said. “I don’t think anybody knows. So for a lot of the guys on the team ... it’s about focusing on family right now and then just listening to all your health officials, knowing that everybody’s in this together. Everybody’s going to help fight this virus together. ... We’re not sure what’s going to happen."