Sadly, the 2020 NFL season was defined as much by the COVID-19 pandemic as it was by the play we saw on the field. As much as we all would like to forget about that calendar year, it’s the truth.
Now that is seems things could potentially be looking up in regards to the pandemic, there’s hope that we will actually be able to focus more on the on-field product once the 2021 NFL season comes calling in September.
In talking about this on Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell showed a ton of optimism that normalcy will soon return to the game.
“We want to see every one of our fans back,” Goodell said, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “We expect to have full stadiums in the coming season.”
First off, it must be noted that the league plans to hold the 2021 NFL Draft in-person this coming April in Cleveland. Remember, it was an all-virtual event during the height of the pandemic last April. Secondly, the trajectory of COVID-19 coupled with the increased number of Americans being vaccinated leads to the belief that Goodell is now being overly-optimistic here.
COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 NFL season
As of March 29, nearly 96 million Americans have had at least one dose of the vaccine (20% of the population). Of that group, 35 million have been fully vaccinated.
President Joe Biden announced recently that he wants every American to be eligible for a vaccine by May 1 with the hope of the Fourth of July holiday returning this nation to normalcy. While far-fetched when he took office on Jan. 20, this looks like a more than reasonable goal.
What does that all mean for the 2021 NFL season? It’s rather clear. If these goals are met, there’s absolutely no reason why every team hosting a football game come Week 1 can’t have their stadiums at full capacity. Even more so than the fan experience, it’s could be a boon for the league.
NFL revenue and the 2021 season
Pretty much like the rest of the United States, getting back to normalcy is the biggest key for the NFL. However, there’s obviously a financial backdrop to this.
As evidenced by the lowered 2021 NFL salary cap, revenue around the league took a major hit without fans in attendance for the vast majority of games last season. That was magnified by the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders not being able to host fans during their debut seasons at state-of-the-art venues.
Add in the record television contract the NFL just signed, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe business won’t be booming for the league moving forward.
At the very least, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Roger Goodell and Co.