The NFL schedule is set to release around May 9 (so just a couple weeks from now), but, given the current climate and the ongoing pandemic, nobody really knows for sure what to expect from the league whenever the slate of games are announced. As we all just saw, the NFL Draft was successfully able to adapt and execute virtually, but NFL games require a helluva lot more moving parts (re: workers, coaches, TV crew, etc.), meaning that, even if games are played without just fans, there will still be a good thousand or more people most likely in attendance for a bevy of different reasons.
For that reason, the league’s trying to stay ahead of any potential conflicts, and just announced a wild contingency plan in case the NFL schedule has to be adjusted as more information comes out about the novel coronavirus — which, as we’ve seen for the past couple of months already, has all but shutdown normal life.
According to an article in Sports Business Daily, a few of the changes to the NFL schedule (should there be a season at all) are pretty damn shocking. Among the things being discussed are things like when the season starts, whether or not a full 16-game slate will be played as normal, or, even weirder, if the Super Bowl might have to be pushed back. Take a look below at some of the discussions from the NFL about what may or may not happen in the upcoming schedule.
- The NFL could move the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay from Feb. 7 to another Sunday in February. The story said the league wants to keep the Super Bowl in February, meaning Feb. 28 would be possible.
- The NFL could eliminate the bye week between the conference championships and Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl is usually played in that bye week, and if the bye week is eliminated, the Pro Bowl would be, too.
- The season could be delayed until Thursday, Oct. 15.
- The NFL could shift the schedule for two early weeks to the end of the season. A third week would have teams against opponents with the same bye week, so that week could be erased and all regular-season bye weeks would be eliminated.
Given the amount of money that the NFL makes each season from TV broadcasts and fans in attendance, the best-case scenario will obviously be the top option — playing a regular NFL schedule as planned, with 16 games, one bye per team and the playoffs; which got a facelift for the upcoming season as well. Outside of that, any abbreviated season could hurt, but, it’d be better than cancelling the entire campaign.
One thing to keep in mind is what’s previously been said as more information is released about COVID-19, with California Governor Gavin Newsom previously saying he didn’t anticipate NFL games being played in his state at all this upcoming season. And, while the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has tried to remain optimistic about sports coming back sooner rather than later, if health experts aren’t saying it’s safe, the NFL won’t do it.
Whether or not the NFL schedule goes on as always planned or not, at least the league’s having the proper discussions right now to try and stay ahead of everything in case the pandemic stretches into the summer and early fall months — which, if we’re being honest, would be brutal for so many reasons. There are a lot of unanswered questions, so we’ll just have to wait and see how this all shakes out.