Report: NFL still hopes to start on time, schedule will have contingencies for coronavirus changes
When the NFL said in early April that it hadn’t discussed contingency plans for potential changes due to coronavirus, that was hard to believe.
The NFL is a multi-billion dollar corporation that had seen March Madness canceled, the NBA and NHL stop their seasons and MLB push back opening day. For whatever reason, the NFL expressed that in the middle of all those unprecedented disruptions that it hadn’t considered that coronavirus would cause changes to its season.
Whether the NFL had already discussed contingency plans or did in recent weeks, they have taken place. When the schedule is released in May it will be in hopes that a full season takes place and starts on time. The schedule release will also reflect that the season might not start on time and the league could have to reduce games, according to the Washington Post.
NFL schedule could have contingencies for delayed start
The Washington Post’s Mark Maske, citing two sources familiar with the NFL’s planning, said the regular-season schedule will be released about May 9. And there will be unspecified contingency plans within that schedule, if games don’t start on time. The regular season has been scheduled to start on Sept. 10.
The contingency plans will include the possibility of having a shortened season due to a delayed start, The Post said.
“The schedule is being done in such a way that builds in that flexibility,” one source told The Post.
The NFL is still pushing forward as if the season could begin as normal in early September. President Donald Trump said he wants the NFL season to start on time. That could prove to be impossible, at least with stadiums full of fans.
One source told Maske that the NFL is planning for “everything from playing without fans to playing with full stadiums,” with the belief that “we’re going to have fans in the stands.”
That could mean stadiums are partially full. Presumably most fans would be happy with any football in the fall, even with no crowds.
Will football start in the fall?
All leagues are still working on ways to play again, and the NFL and major college football have the luxury of time. Despite undue pressure from critics to make a sweeping decision on the season, the NFL doesn’t have a meaningful game scheduled for about five months. The schedule isn’t even out. There’s no pressing reason to make a choice now.
The NFL has recognized the pandemic in many ways — canceling live events for the draft, telling teams the draft will be done remotely, canceling free-agent and pre-draft visits, shutting down team facilities, banning offseason programs and so forth — and it seems the league will release the schedule with some potential acknowledgements that the start of the season could be disrupted.
All football fans hope the season can start as scheduled, even with some adjustments regarding crowds in stadiums. When the schedule comes out about May 9, we’ll have a better idea of the options the NFL is considering.
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