The NFL schedule will forge ahead as normal despite an abnormal time for sports. League spokesman Brian McCarthy revealed via ESPN that the 2020 season will in fact start September 10 and run a full 17-week schedule that will conclude with Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021.
Fans can expect the full preseason and regular season schedule to drop later this week and despite concerns regarding crowds, the NFL is aiming at having fans in stadiums this fall. The decision will ultimately come down to health experts along with local governments though the NFL is prepared to adapt based on the pandemic’s evolving situation.
“If we have to make adjustments, we will be prepared to do so based on the latest guidance from our medical experts and public health officials and current and future government regulations,” McCarthy told ESPN. “We made adjustments and conducted safely and efficiently key offseason activities such as free agency, the virtual off-season program and the 2020 NFL Draft.”
While COVID-19 has disrupted the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS seasons, the NFL has stood at an advantage with a months-long gap before taking the field. However, fears of the virus’ seasonality could just as easily impact the NFL months from now. The league has reportedly discussed contingency plans such as starting in mid-October and eliminating bye weeks or playing for empty stadiums. Although there is hope that teams will be able to carry out a typical season for fans, playing international games are likely not in the cards this year, according to insider Adam Schefter.
All team training facilities remain closed despite states around the country beginning to lift their stay-at-home restrictions. They are expected to remain shut down until all states with an NFL team loosens those restrictions. In the meantime, players are to conduct individual workouts while team workouts may go virtual this spring.