The Possible NFL COVID-19 Bubble


The National Football League has been full steam ahead when it comes to playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The league has said so far that they plan to play at the normal home stadiums for all teams during the 2020 season. There have been multiple plans for what the league will do to combat the virus. There has been a plan to have specialized helmets that implement masks. The league has looked at tarping off the closer sections of seats to the field and putting ads on the tarps. But let’s say as we get closer to the start of the season, what if the league scraps that?

The Possible NFL COVID-19 Bubble

What if they need to do what the NBA and the NHL are doing? A type of bubble where players and team officials are forced into hotels and only come out for games. Where would the National Football League go if they need to do such a thing?

First there is the need to play in an area of the United States that has not been heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic, so that leaves a few areas. Arizona is a state that has not been hit as hard as other states, and has two cities with metros that have not been affected that hard also. The league also needs an area that has multiple stadiums. This is important as for the NFL’s TV deals. 

Before we go farther, let’s explain why the NFL needs to have multiple games happening at the same time. The NFL’s current TV deals with both CBS and FOX allow the stations to broadcast regional games. Say you live in Memphis, TN, and the Tennessee Titans are playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. Your local CBS affiliate would be broadcasting this game, instead of the Denver Broncos playing the Las Vegas Raiders. This is important as the NFL wants to keep these deals in place. The league would also like to please fans by having games on TV.

This is where Arizona starts to become the number one perfect candidate. Two of the cities in the state, Phoenix and Tucson, both have multiple NFL level stadiums, and are close to each other. Phoenix has three stadiums that can be used: State Farm Stadium, Sun Devil Stadium, and Chase Field. Tucson has Arizona Stadium. These four venues are great for regional broadcast games, and nearly keep up with the normal schedule. State Farm Stadium and Chase Field will also be useful for the prime time games for their appearance, and will not cheapen the broadcast. 

So now there is a suitable place for the NFL season to occur, what happens? The league has to figure out where to place players and team officials. Well the NFL needs to create a bubble so they can have this season happen. That means players only go to and leave hotels, practice facilities, and for games.  Something that the league could borrow from the MLB is the idea of a free agent squad. The NFL could have a roster of 60+ players that any team could pull from, in case any players from a team gets COVID-19.

One last thing the NFL will have to look at is the idea of having fans at these bubble games. As of writing, the NBA plans to bar fans from their bubble games, and the NHL is unknown. If the NFL wants to bring fans into these games, they would likely have groups separate by six feet or more. It would also be a smart idea to tarp off the sections closest to the field as the NFL has planned on doing, as this would help stop any possible infection.

The NFL looks to have an impossible task as we get closer to the start of the season. Whatever the league plans to do, we can all hope that it includes playing the game.

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