The coronavirus pandemic is not deterring NFL officials from putting on a full season. In a league-wide conference call Tuesday, NFL executives decided to move forward in planning a full 16-game season and expanded postseason featuring 14 teams.
After consulting with medical experts tracking the virus’ trajectory around the globe, the NFL will not shy away from a full 2020 season. However, proper measures must be taken to ensure the virus rides its course before the fall.
“All of our discussion, all of our focus, has been on a normal traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums, and going through a full 16-game regular season and full set of playoffs,” NFL General Counsel Executive VP Jeff Pash said on the call. “That’s our focus. That’s our expectation. Am I certain of that? I’m not certain I’ll be here tomorrow. But I’m planning on it, and in the same way, we’re planning on having a full season.”
Coaches and executives have reportedly feared that the season would not be able to start on time, or perhaps be ready to welcome fans into the stadium come September. As preventative measures, Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered all league facilities to be shut down. The offseason will operate largely free of in-person interactions, including this month’s overhauled NFL draft. Rather than the normal draft format, team executives will make their picks from remote locations and limit group size to ten or less, with six feet distance between each person. The league will spend the coming weeks developing the 2020 season schedule, which is expected to be released in early May.
Although football season has not been directly impacted the way other leagues have, teams and players across the league have come to the forefront of various relief efforts. A majority of teams have extended the payment deadlines for season ticket holders with millions facing major economic effects of the pandemic. The Rams raised money for local organizations aiding the crisis while the Cardinals are hosting a trio of blood drives to help out healthcare professionals in need. Individual players and ownership have also made sizable donations in areas affected around the country.