As the NFL makes its final preparations for the 2020 NFL Draft, league officials and teams have reportedly already begun discussing the real possibility of the 2020 NFL season being played without fans in attendance.
In his latest mailbag for The Athletic, Jay Glazer said the league is already discussing contingency plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic that would include teams playing in empty stadiums next season.
The talks come at a time when the NFL said it is publicly planning to start the 2020 season on schedule, which President Donald Trump encouraged the league to do during a conference call with the major North American pro sports leagues.
However, speculation continues to increase that the NFL season will not go as the league hopes. Recently, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank could only express hope for a 16-game season and admitted that playing games without fans is a realistic possibility.
There are also many across the NFL who are questioning whether or not the season will start on time. Multiple team executives and head coaches have privately indicated they expect the 2020 season to be delayed.
While playing games without fans is a possibility, the NFL could still be putting the health and safety of its players and personnel at risk.
Blank noted that the NFL might need to test its players on a daily basis to ensure they aren’t carrying the coronavirus. The league would also likely have to test all employees working for teams at practices and during games.
As The Athletic notes, teams also would need to have players they can sign if someone on their roster gets hurt. Plus, rosters will be even larger during training camp and each team also carries a practice squad.
Even if in a more drastic step where the NFL quarantines all 32 teams, the number of tests each organization would need to give to players might come at a time when there remains a shortage of COVID-19 testing kits.
The NFL is certainly hopeful that the COVID-19 pandemic will start to improve in the upcoming months, which could provide greater clarity on when league operations could continue.
Given there are now more than 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and this will be the worst week for the virus, an NFL season without fans in attendance might be the best-case scenario.