The NFL’s official position is that it’s planning to play a full season in full stadiums. It’s unofficial position is far more pragmatic.
According to the Washington Post, the NFL’s contingency plans include a shortened schedule and playing games in empty or partially empty stadiums.
“As we have said, we are committed to protecting the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and communities,” the NFL said in a statement issued to the Post. “We look forward to the 2020 NFL season, and our guidelines and decisions will be guided by the latest advice from medical and public health officials, as well as current and future government regulations. We will continue to plan for the season and will be prepared to adjust as necessary, just as we have done with free agency, the draft, and now the offseason program.”
Beneath that thin patina of confidence, the NFL is planning for playing without fans at all to playing with some fans to playing fewer games.
As a result, the NFL’s schedule — which will be released by May 9 — is being structured to provide maximum flexibility.
That’s an important approach, and it’s critical that the league anticipate every possible outcome, and that the league have a predetermined plan for every potential permutation. Apparently, the league does.