With the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt to sports all over the U.S., it's uncertain if the 2020 NFL season will start on time. The season is set to kick off in September and NFL officials are expecting games will be played in September. Not only that, when NFL officials spoke to reporters on Tuesday, they said they expect to play all 16 games in front of fans, and they are expecting to play their international games, which include London and Mexico, according to NFL.com.
Jeff Pash, the NFL's executive vice president, general counsel told reporters the league's medical executives, who have been working with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, have been shown models of projections in other countries. And based on the information they have received, league officials are confident they won't have to alter their schedule. The NFL draft will go on as planned (Apr. 23-25) and the schedule of games will be released on or around May 9.
"All of our discussion, all of our focus, has been on a normal traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums, and going through a full 16-game regular season and full set of playoffs," Pash said. "That's our focus."
Things may clear up by the time the season kicks off in September, but the NFL has made their share of changes during the offseason. As mentioned, the draft will not be pushed back, but the public events that were set to take place in Las Vegas have been canceled. Also, team facilities are closed until next week while free-agent and draft visits are taking place virtually. It's very likely offseason workouts will be canceled and training camps could be delayed.
"The challenges we face are not unique -- many businesses and individuals throughout the country are experiencing and addressing similar issues," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in the memo to teams. "Please be assured that the NFL is well-positioned to meet these operational challenges as we prepare to offer our fans and the country an outstanding 2020 NFL season."
Because the NFL is in its offseason, they haven't had too many cases of coronavirus. In fact, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is the only current coach or player to contract COVID-19. The good news is Payton is symptom-free and has been cleared by doctors.