Report: NFL could delay season to avoid playing in empty stadiums

By Matt Johnson
Lambeau Field during Packers game Lambeau2 169

When the NFL releases its schedule for the 2020 season on Thursday night, it will feature the typical 16-game, 17-week season that fans enjoy every year. However, amid concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the league could be prepared to take drastic steps to keep fans happy.

In an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio shared that the NFL is considering delaying the start of the 2020 season by a month. The move would push Week 1 of the regular season into October, which would also push back Super Bowl LV, giving players more time to prepare if training camp is delayed or altered. Of course, there’s an even more significant benefit for NFL teams.

There are ongoing discussions around the league about starting the 2020 season without fans in attendance at games. The decision would be to ensure the safety of the general public and to follow regulations across the country regarding social distancing and limiting mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately for the NFL, it would come at a dramatic cost. NFL owners are reportedly fearful of the financial hit they would suffer if games are played without fans and players know a significant blow to the league’s revenue would hurt the salary cap.

As a result, league officials have discussed the possibility of moving the season back to the start of October. There is also growing confidence in the NFL, per Florio, that the health crisis across the country will have improved by the fall. The NFL believes that with more testing kits available and operating sports will be easier for teams and leagues.

The NFL is constantly evaluating the COVID-19 pandemic and planning out its fallback plans if there is a delay during the summer or even during the NFL season. As of now, though, the increased confidence from around the league is a good sign for football fans.

Given the NFL’s hope that fans could attend games in 2020, it marks a reason for hope that a sense of normalcy will return this year during a difficult time.