The 2020 NFL Draft went off without a hitch and with record viewership. However, the league might not be as lucky with the upcoming season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Ben Fischer, the NFL has already discussed a contingency plan for the upcoming season that would push the start of the regular season into mid-October.
While it’s only a tentative plan preparing for one of the league’s worst-case scenarios, NFL officials have started outlining how a delayed season would be played out. In the event of the season beginning on Oct. 15, the NFL would push the Super Bowl back to Feb. 28 and eliminate bye weeks for the entire 2020 season.
While the NFL will release the full 16-game schedule for the upcoming season in May, it is already being designed to allow for modifications. By doing so, the NFL can prepare for the start date being pushed back and the number of games reduced.
Among the contingency plans, per the report, is pushing the regular season back by up to five weeks. In order to account for the lost time, the NFL would eliminate bye weeks to make up for some games and push the Super Bowl from Feb. 7, 2021 to Feb. 28.
While commissioner Roger Goodell said before the NFL Draft that he anticipates the 2020 season starting on time, league officials are now preparing for delays.
It comes at a time when fans and even team personnel are divided on the NFL sticking to its schedule.
Multiple team executives and head coaches have privately indicated they expect the 2020 season to be delayed. There is also now speculation that some players might refuse to play due to the health risks if the pandemic is ongoing.
The NFL already seemed very open to playing games in empty stadiums due to mass gatherings be prevented by states. Recently, league officials started looking into measures that suggest a quarantined season is possible.
Everyone wants to see the NFL stick to its plan for a full season in 2020. But given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the league is understandably preparing for things to get far worse. One thing is for sure, the 2020 NFL season will be different than anything we’ve seen before.