2020 NFL Season Could Very Well Be Delayed

So far it has been business as usual for the NFL. While the rest of the country and world has been quarantined for nearly two months, the league continued to operate as usual and released their 2020 tour schedule in a nationally televised event. But the broadcast should have been a reality check for football fans on the strong possibility the season will be delayed.

No question, the NFL has the biggest lead time before choosing to start or suspend play. Their decision will be based heavily on the severity of the coronavirus and where the hot spots are in the country. Announcing the schedule seemed to be a gesture to reassure the league’s television and commercial partners that football will be played at some point next fall. But to assume the 2020 season will begin on time is a very risky proposition.

2020 NFL Season Could Be Delayed

NFL Still Open for Business

Publicly, the NFL off-season has gone on without a hitch. The free agency period was the perfect distraction for sports starved fans who were forced to stay at home. Each day, fans were on the edge of their seats waiting to see who was coming and going from their favorite team. Then two weekends ago, the league hosted the first virtual NFL Draft and experienced very little technical difficulties.

Behind the scenes it has been a different story. The business of the NFL has been turned upside down by the pandemic as all league meetings have been and continue to be conducted online. Despite the chaos, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell remains confident the 2020 season will begin on time. However, multiple media outlets reported league officials were working frantically on having several contingency plans in place should the season need to be delayed. But none of those backup scenarios will become public until the NFL is forced to implement one of them.

Requirements for 2020 Season Start on Time

The rules of football do not promote social distancing very well. League wide, there are lingering questions that must be answered before the NFL can move forward with the start of their season.

The recent news of several states re-opening after loosening some of the strict containment orders shouldn’t give any hope to their NFL cities that training camp is just around the corner. Football fans cannot use this timeline as an assurance that the 2020 campaign will start on time. Team’s practice facilities will remain closed until every franchise has been given clearance to open their doors by local government officials. The odds are high that not every state will give consent to holding large gatherings like NFL training camps in the next three months.

More importantly, the NFL must get answers on what steps are needed to keep the fans, players, officials, coaching staffs, etc. safe while playing games in a stadium like setting. The league’s decision will be based on the medical experts’ guidelines on what type of environment is needed to deem a stadium safe enough to hold a sporting event. Obviously, there must be no spike in the number of daily infections in the surrounding area. Plus, the availability of a broad testing plan that can provide immediate results is another requirement. If neither is secured, then no football will be played.

The Miami Dolphins shared their plan to hold home games inside Hard Rock Stadium at 25 percent capacity. Plus, the Dolphins announced they will implement new measures that don’t promote social crowding near the concession stands. Some of the other guidelines include how the fans will enter and leave the stadium.

The Reality for the 2020 Season

NFL training camps are schedule to open in mid-July, so if the 2020 season is going to be suspended an announcement must be made soon. A postponement of training camp and the preseason is a football fan’s first warning sign that the season will be delayed.

It will be hard to begin the season without at least 30 days of training camp. There is no substitute for players getting on a practice field and taking part in drills that prepare their body for the grind of an NFL season. If this lost, then the risk of injury grows even higher than the normal rate.

The NFL doesn’t have to make the public privy to all of their contingency plans, but all of the above concerns are fair and logical so the NFL must be prepared for a delayed start to the 2020 season.

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