Following an unprecedented virtual edition of the first-round draft last Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell remains confident that the league will be able to get underway this September despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. But in order to do so, certain modifications will need to be made as the nation adjusts to a new normal brought on by the virus.
“We know that we’re dealing with a different environment,” Goodell said in an appearance on CBS This Morning. “And obviously, public safety will be number one on our mind, but we believe that we’ve been able to make modifications, the draft was a great example. We’re able to make changes to the way we operate, to do it in the environment that we’re in, and do it that our fan and our participants’ safety is number one.”
The commissioner and other NFL officials have maintained their desire to have football back in the fall as expected, though health experts advised that the 2020 season may face challenges. The league’s chief medical officer pressed that in efficient testing will be a key for games to go on safely, while the Chargers’ former team doctor cautioned while the season may be able to start on time, it could be in danger of incompletion in the winter should COVID-19 prove to be seasonal in nature. Nonetheless, Goodell said fans can expect the full season schedule to be released in the coming weeks as the league preps for the fall.
“I think, you know, right now our job is to be prepared for the season. That means keeping our football schedule as best we can — obviously with modifications to make sure we’re doing it safely,” he said. “But we’re going to be prepared and ready, and we’re planning on playing this fall even though it may be different.”
Goodell’s claim contradicts a new report that suggests the NFL season schedule could face a major overhaul with a mid-October start, late-February Super Bowl and no bye weeks, according to the Sports Business Journal. That contingency plan puts the NFL in the same boat as the NBA, NHL and MLB, which are all scrambling to find solutions for their disrupted seasons.
One aspect of the season that many have presumed will change is having packed stadiums full of fans. However, Goodell noted there is still plenty of uncertainty and the health environment is constantly evolving and did not speculate what the league may see in a few months time.