NFL planning for season to stay on schedule but also preparing to adjust

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During a Friday appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Roger Goodell said the league is planning on business as usual in September when the season is scheduled to start. But the Commissioner did concede that the NFL has discussed contingency plans.

“We are planning on putting our schedule out, our game schedule, by May 9,” Goodell told Eisen. “We are planning, as you can tell by the draft and by the start of the league year and by trying to adjust to the environment we’re operating in, that we’re planning and working toward staying on schedule. We will be announcing our schedule by then and we intend to do everything possible to stay focused on that and make sure we can execute on that, because that’s where we think we’ll be.”

Reports earlier this week indicated the NFL has begun talking alternatives if COVID-19 forces changes. Those contingency plans reportedly include a shortened schedule and playing games in empty or partially empty stadiums.

The expectation is the league will backload divisional games and have interconference games early on the docket.

Goodell didn’t address any of the specifics but did acknowledge the league has discussed the what-ifs.

“That’s why we’re going to be prepared, and we’re moving on the basis of making sure we’re ready for the season, and we’ll have to adjust if something some way interferes with that, and it’s in the best interest of public safety,” Goodell said.

President Donald Trump spoke with Goodell and the other commissioners of the major pro sports earlier this week. The committee also includes Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. They discussed plans for bringing back sports.

“One of the things we always do is we consider public safety in everything we do,” Goodell said. “It’s important for our fans, our participants, our partners, all be safe. We’re obviously going to have that in our forefront as we’re making all our plans. None of us know what the conditions will be a week from now, much less three months from now or six months from now. So we’ll be prepared with alternatives. That’s what we do, and we’ll make sure we’re ready to adjust. We’re working with all the authorities. You mentioned the president’s got all the sports together. I think people want to see sports back. We want to do it safely, and we want to do it safely for everybody. So we’re all working together to make sure we find ways to do that, supporting one another but making sure that we do our part to get the economy going to get people back to a place where we have some sense of normalcy.”