The NFL is currently planning for a full, uninterrupted season this fall. However, preseason activities could be cut short as officials navigate the best way to conduct games at a large-scale level.
According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, discussions are underway between executives and the Players Association to shorten the 2020 preseason schedule from four games to two. This scenario would allow teams more time to prepare for their season in training, which would will be slightly different this year thanks to a set of preliminary safety protocols issued by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
A reduction of preseason games could also provide officials the chance to fine-tune protocols for regular season games. The league is hopeful that stadiums can be filled to the brim, but is also ironing out contingency plans should capacities need to be reduced for social distancing. Individual teams are also preparing for this possibility, with the Steelers releasing only half of their ticket inventory and the Seahawks said to be mulling reduced capacity figures.
A shortened preseason allows the possibility that the NFL Hall of Fame Game may also get pushed back, as it is currently set for August 6 and expecting 20,000 fans.
The league is already preparing to cut its preseason length beginning in 2021 to accommodate the addition of a 17th regular season game. Teams will compete in three preseason bouts with the fourth week serving as a bye.