NFL Schedule Release
The NFL is not altering its plans for the fall, despite the Covid 19 pandemic. The league will release its 2020 schedule later this week without any major changes, per ESPN senior NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler. Team schedules are expected to be released by May 9th.
According to ESPN senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the NFL plans on releasing its preseason schedule later this week as well.
The season opener is set for Thursday, September 10th, with fans expected in attendance. Super Bowl Sunday will be held on February 7th, with a vision of fans in the stands.
NFL Season to Start on Time
According to Fowler, the NFL is operating as if things will go as planned in the fall. Once the schedule releases, it is not expected to include a slate of Saturday games, despite the possibility of college football postponing its season.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy simply said “we plan to start on time.”
However, should the pandemic intensify, the league is working with the medical experts to have set protocols in place.
Games will be played in Team Stadiums
An option not on the table for the NFL is executing a season at a centralized location. Although professional leagues such as the NBA and Major League Baseball have discussed playing at neutral sites such as Walt Disney World, Las Vegas, or Arizona, the NFL has no plans to mimic that.
Additionally, the league continues to evaluate when players can re-enter team facilities. The NFL and NFL Players Association both agreed to keep sites closed until every state in which a team resides lifts its stay-at-home order, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
After successfully completing free agency, virtual OTAs, and the 2020 NFL Draft, teams are prepared to efficiently conduct off season workouts and June mini camps virtually.
International Games Canceled
Due to COVID-19, the NFL has canceled its international games in London and Mexico City, per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. The Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Jacksonville Jaguars (twice) were the teams scheduled to play internationally in 2020.
How could games with fans look?
The Miami Dolphins’ CEO/president Tom Garfinkel revealed a mock-up plan to host fans at Hard Rock Stadium that would adhere to social distance guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, per ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe.
Here’s how Garfinkel plans to go about the matter.
“We would have times to come in for security at different gates so people would be separated out, in terms of when they enter the stadium… we would exit the stadium much like a church environment, where each row exits so people aren’t filing out all at the same time in a herd,” he said.
Garfinkel plans to add colored spots on the ground leading up to entrance gates to designate the distance needed between fans as they enter the stadium. He says all fans must wear masks and order food from their seat, then go upstairs and pick it up rather than waiting in line for concession.
One of the contingencies being considered is delaying the season until mid-October, according to the Sports Business Journal. The league has also discussed playing in empty stadiums and having no bye weeks if necessary.
As of right now, the NFL faces extremely small chances of canceling their season, and fans can still look forward to opening day kickoff in September.