Lions suspend travel for coaches, player personnel staff; NFL cancels league meetings
Ypsilanti — The Detroit Lions joined a rapidly growing list of NFL teams to implement measures to protect its staff members from the spread of COVID-19.
The team announced Thursday afternoon all travel for coaches and player personnel staff is being suspended immediately, while all non-essential staff at both Ford Field and the team's practice facility in Allen Park are to work from home until further notice.
“The Detroit Lions have been closely monitoring the global events surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and fully support the precautions being taken in response," the team wrote in a statement. "Our organization has been in direct contact with the NFL, leading health administrators and city officials throughout this process.
"Over the past week we have asked employees to participate in a variety of proactive measures to reduce the risk of transmission at both Ford Field and the team’s training facility in Allen Park," the statement continued. "It is imperative that we remain diligent in our responsibility to keep our players, coaches, staff members and their families safe and help slow the spread of the virus."
The announcement came about two hours after the NFL canceled its league meetings in Florida scheduled for later this month.
"This decision was made consistent with the league's primary concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations," the NFL said in a statement.
"There will be full consideration and votes on any open football issues, including playing rules, bylaws, and resolutions, as well as other business matters that were on the agenda for the annual meeting, at the spring meeting scheduled for May 19-20. Most of the first day will be dedicated to football-related issues. Head coaches and general managers will participate in the meeting."
The Lions were one of more than a dozen teams represented at Eastern Michigan's pro day Thursday morning, before individual teams and colleges began to install greater precautionary measures.
Multiple team representatives scheduled to show up at Eastern Michigan backed out from attending, while additional franchises announced the suspension of staff travel throughout the morning and early afternoon.
Other organizations, including the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams, announced the total closure of their facilities. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan was among the first schools to cancel their pro day for their NFL prospects.
The NFL is the latest sports league to announce measures to address the growing COVID-19 crisis. On Wednesday evening, the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert contracted the virus. A day later the NHL followed suit, while the NCAA cancelled all sports, including the men's and women's basketball tournament.
Beyond individual team decisions, and the cancellation of the league meetings, the NFL has not addressed whether the start of free agency or the draft will be impacted. Free agency is scheduled to begin on March 18, while the draft is set to be held in Las Vegas from April 23-25.