Amid increasing speculation that NFL games won’t be able to proceed with fans or at all in California in 2020, the NFL hasn’t ruled out the possibility of moving the 49ers, Rams, and/or Chargers to other states for the coming season.
“We are preparing to play the 2020 NFL season as scheduled and with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel and attendees,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Gilbert Manzano of the Southern California News Group in response to a request for comment on the possibility of staging games involving the L.A. teams in other locations. “This includes games at SoFi Stadium. We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this offseason, demonstrating that we can safely and efficiently conduct key activities, such as free agency, the virtual offseason program, and the 2020 NFL Draft.”
The league has firmly committed to a noncommittal approach, neither confirming nor ruling out anything while generally reiterating that the plan is to proceed, but to adjust if needed. As previously noted, it wouldn’t be difficult to move the three California teams to other stadiums. It’s also possible that both L.A. teams will share the new venue in Las Vegas, with the Raiders.
“We will continue to make decisions based on the latest advice of medical and public health officials, as well as in full compliance with current and future government regulations,” McCarthy said. “Our primary focus will be on protecting the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel and our communities.”
The pending stay-at-home order in Los Angeles County is expected to remain in place through July. While that doesn’t affect the Rams and Chargers, who aren’t headquartered in L.A. County, their new stadium is. If/when the county’s stay-at-home order extends beyond August 1, this will affect the preseason and/or the start of the regular season.
Which means that the NFL will need to be ready to move the California teams to other states. Which will require negotiation between the league and the NFL Players Association, given that players will be yanked for the season out of their homes and dropped into some other location.