Roger Goodell not sure 2021 NFL season will return the league to normalcy

By Vincent Frank
NFL: Super Bowl LIV-Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference

There’s one game remaining in the current season. That will take place Sunday with the Buccaneers and Chiefs going at it. But what about the 2021 NFL season?

It’s a major question fans and those around the league are asking after the 2020 campaign was defined by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Holding his annual Super Bowl week press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attempted to answer that question. However, he could not provide a firm answer.

Related: NFL games today – Everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL season

Roger Goodell still unsure about 2021 NFL season and COVID-19 pandemic

2021 NFL season, Roger Goodell
Sep 13, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wears a face mask during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cowoboys 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“I wish I knew the answer to that. One of the things that I have learned and all of us have learned is not to project too much in advance,” Goodell said when asked whether the 2021 NFL season will return to normal. “I don’t know when normal will occur again. I know this, we’ve learned to operate in a difficult environment and we’ll do it again.”

Despite some major hiccups, the NFL did well to conduct the 2020 season amid a growing pandemic around the United States. Sure there were issues with teams not following the league-mandated COVID-19 protocols. There were also some competitive balance issues. Even then, the league is set to host 25,000 fans in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV on Sunday. That’s just tremendous news.

As for fans being back in stadiums during the 2021 NFL season, it’s pretty much out of Goodell’s control. Local and state governments will make a decision on that based on the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines and the trajectory of the virus.

The good news here is that more and more Americans are getting vaccinated from coronavirus. As of Thursday afternoon, 34 million doses of the vaccine have been given around the country. That is expected to increase big time with leaders indicating that every American who wants to be vaccinated should be able to by the summer.

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This timeline fits well with the 2021 NFL season. Week 1 will take place some time in early September with training camp getting going in July. In between, the league would like to play preseason games after those were canceled this past summer.

For the league and its teams, this is a pretty big issue. We saw a tremendous downtick in revenue around the NFL during the 2020 season due to a lack of fans attending games. If that changes for the 2021 NFL season, normalcy will ultimately return for the gridiron world.

However, that remains an open question right now.