“Extremely small” chance that there will be no NFL season in 2020

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The ongoing pandemic has created plenty of confusion, as science has mixed with politics and as news has been filtered and slanted by media outlets and personalities more concerned about pandering to political viewpoints (on both sides) than the truth. Within the NFL, there’s little or no confusion: Football season will happen.

Per sources with direct knowledge of both the NFL’s deliberations and the current and expected medical and scientific developments in the coming weeks and months, there is an “extremely small” chance that there will be no NFL season in 2020.

So what would trigger the “extremely small” outcome? As one source put it, the information gleaned from fighting and studying the coronavirus to date would have to be proven dramatically incorrect by future behavior of the virus and the illness it causes in the people who are infected by it.

The biggest potential impediment to playing football will be the availability of adequate and efficient testing, both for football personnel and the general public. By August, however, it’s expected that testing will be prevalent, that the testing process (saliva or finger prick) will be simple, and that the results will be turned around very quickly.

It’s also expected that there will be enough testing for the general public to justify testing all players, coaches, trainers, etc. before they enter a team facility or a stadium for practice, meetings, treatment, or games. Pre-admission testing on a daily basis will be critical to keeping the virus out of locker rooms, and to avoiding a Bio-Dome approach to playing a season’s worth of games.

As to the stadiums, it’s also believed that they will be open to fans, with a strong preference for open stadiums from Week One. (For competitive reasons, a season that begins with no fans and that eventually includes fans would create unfair advantages and disadvantages, based on for example when teams are scheduled to play in Seattle or New Orleans or Minnesota or wherever crowd noise can impact the performance of a visiting offense.) Again, testing for the virus and antibody testing (which will reveal whether a person already has had the virus) will be much more readily available by the time football season rolls around, making it easier for fans who choose to attend games to know whether they have it or whether they’ve had it.

Obviously, the virus won’t simply be going away. People over 60 and/or those with certain comorbidities (specifically, diabetes) will need to protect themselves by, among other things, not attending sporting events. Look for teams to explain this to season-ticket holders in careful detail, and for teams to allow season-ticket holders to suspend their arrangements for 2020 with no impact on the ability to buy tickets in 2021 or beyond.

The official position of the league and the teams surely will be that anyone who chooses to attend a game will be doing so with full knowledge and awareness of the risks, and the lawyers undoubtedly will ensure that anyone buying a ticket expressly assumes the risk of catching the virus by choosing to show up for the game.

Don’t count on a “checkerboard” seating arrangement, either. Social distancing in football stadiums won’t work. Even if fans are kept physically distant in their seats, it will be impossible to keep them at least six feet apart when entering, exiting, going to the bathroom, getting food and drink, etc. The league currently is confident that, by the time football season rolls around, the situation will have progressed to a point that people will be able to make informed decisions about whether they want to attend games. (Obviously, those with the antibody will have the lowest risk, since they will have already had the virus.)

This doesn’t mean that training camps will open in late July/early August or that the regular season will start on Thursday, September 10, with the Chiefs raising a banner and hosting a team like the Patriots. In order to get to the point where the governors of all states with NFL stadiums will agree to opening the doors and letting anyone who chooses to attend show up, the start of the season may have to be delayed by a few weeks.

That’s why there’s already talk of a February 28 Super Bowl in Tampa. A three-week delay in the Super Bowl would accommodate a three-week delay to the start of the season. Or a four-week delay if bye weeks are eliminated. Or a five-week delay if the Super Bowl is played one week after the conference championship games.

However the specific dates play out, the generalities currently are this: An NFL season is highly likely to occur, and it’s possible if not probable that all 256 games will feature stadiums that will be open to fans who choose to attend.

While that currently may not feel feasible based on the events of the past six weeks, real progress in testing is happening away from public view, and four months become essentially an eternity when it comes to the progress that will continue to be made as to ease of and access to testing.

So there’s your coronavirus good news for the weekend, harvested and presented objectively and without bias or agenda. Here’s hoping that, as we move forward, people will try their best to remain objective and unbiased and unmotivated by the potential financial benefits of telling a subset of the population what it wants to hear, instead of what it needs to know.

62 responses to ““Extremely small” chance that there will be no NFL season in 2020

  1. As a man in my 30s I always thought 9/11 would be the craziest thing I would live through but this takes the cake

  2. The NFL is still in denial about this whole thing. Are they expecting 80,000 people to cram into a stadium and risk their lives to attend a game? It’s over. Think about 2021

  3. No way Govenors in NJ, CA, MA, MI, PA & IL will allow games to be played in those States in 2020

  4. So what would trigger the “extremely small” outcome? …the information gleaned from fighting and studying the coronavirus to date would have to be proven dramatically incorrect
    —————————–
    Or after restrictions eased next month it could simply be a 2nd bout of Covid hits in late Aug.

  5. That is great news for the Redskins. The confluence of a two time NFL coach of the year in Ron Rivera, the arrival of the defensive player of the year in Chase Young and the continued maturation of Dwayne Haskins (the guy who beat out Joe Burrow) translates into a Super Bowl title for the Skins. Only the coronavirus can stop the Skins — no mere team can foil their title aspirations.

  6. I think there will be some sort of a season as well. It may be delayed or shortened, but I’d be surprised if there was no NFL season.

    I’d be surprised, though, if there were tens of thousands of fans in the stadiums. I’d be OK with that. No, it wouldn’t be the same, but it would be football. Kind of like the draft!

  7. I’d say, ” there is an “extremely small” chance that there will be a NFL season in 2020.”

    This thing is making people crazy. MLB is considering playing baseball later this summer here in AZ at Chase Field and spring training sites. I walk my dog around Salt River Fields…at 4AM before the summer sun comes up and makes us feel like vampires.

    Only Chase has A/C, so I presume the games outside will begin at 11 PM lest the seventh inning stretch become a major hydration break instead of song singalong.
    This is seriously being considered. I guess the Sahara in August wasn’t available.

    I understand wanting to get back to the good old days, but pump the breaks, fellas. We’ll know when we get there.

  8. I know that sports are a intricate part of our society I truly miss watching my favorite teams but when people are dying at a alarming rate everything else is secondary. Stay Healthy

  9. I’ll tell you what is so absolutely frustrating reading this..

    The biggest potential impediment to playing football will be the availability of adequate and efficient testing, both for football personnel and the general public. By August, however, it’s expected that testing will be prevalent, that the testing process (saliva or finger prick) will be simple, and that the results will be turned around very quickly.

    there is no shortage of tests. As an ICU doctor, this is as much a joke as the ventilator shortages. This is the NFL being political and nothing more. There is not a person in the general public that if they wanted to get tested there would be no problem doing so right now. Excuse the pun but this is what the politicians and scientists keep doing with the quarantine dates, they keep moving the goal posts.

  10. I believe there will be NFL football at some point…with no fans for a while. No college football this year though.

  11. Seems so speculative as to almost be meaningless at this point. We’re already at the start of May and testing is still sparse and unreliable, and the situation isn’t changing fast. Solely on the testing front, there’d have to be huge advances in the next 1-3 months.

    Also, given that the teams are geographically dispersed, there would have to be standardization in public testing and other disease-related measures. Standardization in this case implies a national, federally-driven approach. This administration abhors that.

    I’d love football to be back and normal in the Fall. I’d also rather be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed, so consider me skeptical. If there is another outbreak once Fall comes around, the worse place to be will be in a stadium full of people screaming their heads off giving it too each other. Hard pass.

  12. Can’t do the checkerboard seating because it won’t make money. To run a stadium with all its over head cost you need to fill the thing. If you are only half selling the stadium you are better off not opening at all because you ill lose money. Same thing goes for those that say restaurants should open at 25% capacity, they are better off remaining close because you can’t make money like that.

  13. MortimerInMiami says:
    May 2, 2020 at 2:41 pm
    No way Govenors in NJ, CA, MA, MI, PA & IL will allow games to be played in those States in 2020

    You can add MD to that as well. It will just take just one player getting infected for the whole league shutting down, yes 4 months plus is an eternity away and a lot can change. Also will fans be confident enough to go to packed stadiums where people are literally packed like sardines both entering and exiting. Unknown times ahead.

  14. We can’t hide in our houses forever. The way it sounds even if we are social distancing until fall we are likey to have a new wave of infections. So lets just get it over with and open up.

  15. Find 16 College football fields in semi-isolated places and play the games…ROTATE the teams and fields every week…Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas,Oklahoma, Texas,Utah,Nevada,Iowa,Nebraska,Colorado, New Mexico,Northern Arizona, ….win for the empty colleges and win for the NFL. Hey, just throwing it out there!

  16. games yes

    fans-no.

    only way this season played.

    However-in this digital age. Digitized fans filling the stadium on tv and digitized crowd noise.

    I am not kidding either.

  17. Well, as a season ticket holder at Lambeau Field with a “comorbidity,” I will apparently not be able to attend any of the 10 home events this year — breaking a streak of 168 consecutive games. But, as a bonus, I may still be alive at season’s end.

  18. From Mortimer In Miami: “Also will fans be confident enough to go to packed stadiums where people are literally packed like sardines both entering and exiting. Unknown times ahead.”

    Not “literally”….”Figuratively” is correct.

  19. The “Abbot ID Now Test” delivers results in 10 min, has done so since March.

  20. The White House was informed in January that this pandemic threatened the United States while the President was telling the American people that the whole thing was a hoax and would disappear like a “miracle.” Instead of planning to avert a catastrophe (producing test and masks) the President did nothing. He hoped for a “miracle” (perhaps injecting disinfectants would work). But the President’s “miracle” never came. As a result the United States, with all our resources and technological might, now has the highest per capita coronavirus death rate in the world. And so we are left to hope that 9 months after the warning was raised we might finally have tests. If the WH was an NFL franchise, it would have the first pick in the draft every year.

  21. It wouldn’t be enough to alternate seats, you would need 3 seats between groups (say father & son), plus 2 aisles.
    So thats not 50% filled, thats not even 25% filled.
    Would it make sense to have fans if the stadium is 15% filled?

    Masks mandatory entering, exiting, going to the bathroom.

    I can’t see that working well.

  22. Everyday we get closer to getting this thing more and more under control. With football season being 120 to 150 days out I see it happening. But reading some of what people wrote I understand their fears. In no way would I argue that they should not be able stay in the house quarantined for the entire football season if they so desire. Me, I think I’m headed to the game.

  23. “The “Abbot ID Now Test” delivers results in 10 min, has done so since March”.
    ____________

    No such test exists.

  24. The White House was informed in January that this pandemic threatened the United States while the President was telling the American people that the whole thing was a hoax and would disappear like a “miracle.” Instead of planning to avert a catastrophe (producing test and masks) the President did nothing. He hoped for a “miracle” (perhaps injecting disinfectants would work). But the President’s “miracle” never came. As a result the United States, with all our resources and technological might, now has the highest per capita coronavirus death rate in the world. And so we are left to hope that 9 months after the warning was raised we might finally have tests. If the WH was an NFL franchise, it would have the first pick in the draft every year.
    —————————
    A couple of facts: the Speaker of the House urged people to attend a parade in San Francisco and the top NYC health official did the same.

  25. California is already on record that live audience sports is part of Stage 4 which requires effective therapeutic treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19. If all facilities have to be closed because some are, would playing games with fans be any different?

    Also, the NFL probably should be worrying a lot more about what happens to the season if there is a second wave in the fall (October/November) and shelter in place is brought back.

  26. With the way “government” has bungled this up fro the beginning, you’d be hard pressed to convince even the most naive fan to come back to a filthy, beer/spit-stained, germ laden football stadium to cheer on elite athletes who have exponential means to deal with this sort of disaster, including preferential treatment with medical care and testing.

    btw, Quest diagnostics has a test for sale now which costs $119, you can buy it online. have at it

  27. “This doesn’t mean that training camps will open in late July or that the season will start on Thursday Septemeber 10th.”

    It also doesn’t mean that these things won’t happen. Training camps are scheduled to open on time with no open practices to the public. That could change to open practices, but at this time all NFL camps will open in late July. The season is scheduled to open on September 10th with no fans in attendance.

    The decision on whether to have fans in the stands will not be made until at least late July. Pre-season games starting in August will be the first games where this issue is decided. I could see pre-season games being played with no fans in attendance.

    The good news is the season will be played. I would not hold my breath on fans being allowed to attend, but we will find out those decisions in late July at the earliest.

  28. Actually it’s microscopic. It’s called Covid-19.
    It’s stupid to play any games in any sport until this pandemic has ended, period.

  29. It is still unknown how much protection antibodies will provide, or how long that protection will persist. It’s also not clear that testing will be adequate in numbers or reliability.

  30. They may try to start a season but no way it finishes. How can teams in New York even think about competing? Or Detroit, New Orleans? Sorry but this is all wishful thinking. Cities reopening are already seeing massive spikes in cases and deaths.

  31. To Wreckdeutschland — the Chinatown parade was in the first week of February, Pelosi wasn’t there for it, and she didn’t urge anyone to attend it. Those are the facts. And besides Pelosi is a red herring — the WH was repeatedly informed on this looming pandemic and the President didn’t order up tests, the production of masks or ventilators, instead he claimed the whole thing was a big hoax. And that leaves us with one real fact — the US has the highest per capita coronavirus death rate in the world. This isn’t about politics. It is tragedy.

  32. I was listening to Michael Kay on ESPN Radio . He had NJ Governor Murphy on live . The Governor said he had spoken to owners of teams who operate in NJ . He then said ‘I just do not see games with fans in attendance happening in 2020 “.

  33. Last year, over 6 MILLION people died of hunger.
    What again did you say you’re concerned about?

  34. God forbid we don’t have pro sports for a year or two when there is a life threatening pandemic. I mean how the heck did people get through life without pro football during the thousands of years before pro sports existed? I know some of the neanderthals on here will have a hard time computing that, but it really did happen!

  35. I have a part of my life that is helping me get through this Stay at Home stuff….. (Tho many people may not of heard of this >>>>>>>> )……..I READ BOOKS !!!!!!!

  36. “In order to get to the point where the governors of all states with NFL stadiums will agree to opening the doors and letting anyone who chooses to attend show up, the start of the season may have to be delayed by a few weeks.”

    Good luck with that. Can’t see some of these states doing anything like that until everyone has been vaccinated. But there’s always an option for the team to go to another state and play.

  37. If my 50+ years on this earth has taught me anything it’s that a group of 32 Billionaires will get what they want. Book it.

  38. The NFL has to pay billions of dollars for concussions. That will be chicken feed when a bunch of fans get Coronavirus. I can see the lawyers writing up the papers already. Them packing stands would make them liable, no matter what they put on the ticket. No way can they say they have no reliability.

  39. All deaths are being blamed on COVID-19 without even testing for it. This is total BS. Open the states back up and let’s see some sports.

  40. No season. This is how it starts. First it’s “no chance”, then “small chance”, then half half, and last season likely to be canceled.

  41. I don’t expect California to permit stadium events by September. Our governor won’t let the NFL pressure him into opening up stadiums before it is safe.

    When we’re talking infections & deaths per 100K people, California has lower numbers than more than half of the US. Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, many states all have a higher per-capita infection & death rate than California. We’re doing things right. Most of your states are not. That’s the data talking, not my opinion.

    I get that people need to pay their rent/mortgage & feed their family. But I believe that the risk of a boomerang effect, a second wave of Coronavirus infections, is still high. This is an unusual time and requires some temporary changes in how we think about economics. Congress and POTUS should be focusing on trickle-up economics. We should be giving money to people, not corporations. We should let free market consumer spending, not corporate welfare, help businesses survive.

    People can’t return to work until we know they’ll be safe. That means testings *everyone* and tracing the path of infections. This virus won’t go away just because you want it to. It’s far more contagious and deadly than the flu.

  42. I’m still waiting to die from Ebola. Or SARS, or MERS, or…

  43. jurgyisgod says:
    May 2, 2020 at 3:37 pm
    The White House was informed in January that this pandemic threatened the United States while the President was telling the American people that the whole thing was a hoax and would disappear like a “miracle.” Instead of planning to avert a catastrophe (producing test and masks) the President did nothing. He hoped for a “miracle” (perhaps injecting disinfectants would work). But the President’s “miracle” never came. As a result the United States, with all our resources and technological might, now has the highest per capita coronavirus death rate in the world. And so we are left to hope that 9 months after the warning was raised we might finally have tests. If the WH was an NFL franchise, it would have the first pick in the draft every year.
    ________________________________
    This is a football site… Not CNN.

  44. Influenza killed 100,000 Americans 2 flu seasons ago. We didn’t shut down anything then. No one even knew about it if they didn’t check the CDC statistics. Had we not been told about the coronavirus, we probably wouldn’t have noticed. It could have been bad, but so far it hasn’t been. We should be breathing a sigh of relief instead of continuing to live in fear.

  45. ….For competitive reasons, a season that begins with no fans and that eventually includes fans would create unfair advantages and disadvantages..

    Seriously? Teams get unfair advantages all the time, when player A is or isn’t injured when you play them, when a defensive scheme comes together mid way through the season, etc. This is just a dumb reason to start with fans. Be smart, play it safe, see how it’s going with your sport and others before you push all the chips into the middle.

  46. Perfect, news without bias that we need in today’s climate. Oh and good news if you’re a NFL fan that’s looking forward to the season being played. Good job Mr. Florio.

  47. Not only do I think there will be NFL football but I think it will help us through this. TV viewing makes a lot of money and it will bring about normalcy. If done right it could help many stay home and stay safe. Teams may have to live together for a season. It would take a lot of planning but it could keep millions at home and be the highest viewed sport in the world not just the country.

  48. If the nfl decides no football hopefully vince mcmahan can start the xfl back really quickly would be a perfect way for them to build a solid fanbase.

  49. The nfl hates to lose money it’s all they care about they will fight tooth and nail to keep their bottom line! It’s sad really money is valued more then human life i for one dont care if the season isn’t played human life is much more important.

  50. All happy talk.
    I hope they’re right.
    But will the NFL address what the plan is if a player/players test positive on a Saturday night/Sunday morning? Who else on the team might be infected?
    Does the team forfeit?
    Do they forfeit two games until the incubation period is over?
    They simply refuse to address this.

  51. Too many jobs depend on the NFL as they do NCAA games. And keeping your citizenry in bubble wrap during the summer and then fall, would be excessive and dangerous to our economy and Constitutional Republic.

    Time to start treating Americans as adults and not the peasents MI,MA,IL,Cali,Oregon and others seem to take joy in.

  52. With the money involved, i cannot believe they won’t find a way to do games for TV. There will be testing for teams and players.
    I cannot see fans though…The tests are simply not sensitive enough. if you have 710,000 fans into 16 games on a weekend, that is 1.12 million fans packed in stadiums that day. Even a test with a false negative rate of 0.5% means 300 false negatives if the rate of infection in the population is even 5%. A lot of incorrect suppositions that could go either way, but the risk of spreading the virus is high no matter how much testing you do with fans.

  53. Looks like the only fans cheering will be coming from the sidelines from the players themselves. Loud intercoms then crickets.

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