NFL’s 2020 schedule shows it’s prepared for the pandemic to delay or shorten the season

NFL’s 2020 schedule shows it’s prepared for the pandemic to delay or shorten the season




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The NFL is clearly preparing for the possibility that the novel coronavirus pandemic could alter or shorten the 2020 season. Prior to the release of the schedule for the upcoming season, commissioner Roger Goodell put on a happy face, suggesting during the all-virtual 2020 NFL Draft that the NFL planned to hold the season on time and as usual.

But his tune has changed slightly now that the schedule is out.

“In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement, via Washington Post’s Mark Maske. “We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this offseason in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual offseason program, and the 2020 NFL Draft.”

There are a few obvious points of flexibility for the NFL’s 2020 schedule, which were designed with the COVID-19 outbreak in mind, as noted by L.A. Times’ Sam Farmer and the Washington Post.

The first four weeks of every team’s schedule includes two away games and two home games. That seems to be a measure in the event the NFL wants to move or remove those first four weeks for a delayed start or a 12-week season.
During Weeks 3 and 4, every team has one road game and one home game. There are also no divisional games during that two-week period. Essentially, the NFL could eliminate those two weeks without any repercussions to make a 14-game season.
Every team shares the same bye week as their Week 2 opponent. In the event the NFL wanted to shorten the season by one week — and the NFLPA allowed it — the league could cancel Week 2 and have each team play its Week 2 opponent during the bye week.

The NFL is also mulling a handful of precautions beyond a shortened or delayed season, according to the Washington Post. The league may conduct games in empty or partially filled stadiums. The NFL may also have to relocate or reschedule games based on local conditions or restrictions. By August, different states may have vastly different policies and measures in place amid the pandemic. If one area is a hub for the disease, perhaps they’ll find ways to move a team safely out of that area to continue the season.

It will be fascinating to see how and if the sports World can resume safely during the the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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