NFL enters 101st season “cautiously optimistic”

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The NFL has handled the pandemic incredibly well through training camp. Now, the challenge changes, as half the league leaves their mini-bubbles for the first time, taking teams to other cities and hotels and stadiums.

“Based on the single-digit positive COVID-19 cases among NFL players and other personnel over the past month of testing, we are cautiously optimistic,” Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills write in a Washington Post op-ed.

The optimism is warranted. The caution is warranted, too. Over the next five months, one or more curveballs will be inevitable.

And the curveballs can come in various shapes and sizes. As it relates to the pandemic, the biggest challenge comes from the behavior of young players who may not make it five months without giving in to the various temptations that will enhance the possibility of an infection, which then could be brought to the facility or the field. As the season unfolds and teams fall out of contention, all players (specifically the younger ones) may become less vigilant.

Beyond the reality that the teams that lose the fewest players to the COVID-19 reserve list will be the teams most likely to win is the fact that a full-blown outbreak could cause games to be suspended or postponed or canceled and in theory could shut the season down.

The curveballs also can come from other places. Wildfires could force postponements or relocations of West Coast games. Social justice issues could spark a wildcat strike. The election and its aftermath could spark the kind of widespread unrest that will make it difficult if not impossible for any sporting events to happen.

Whatever the circumstances, the NFL needs to be ready to adapt on the fly. From the moment the pandemic began, the NFL has benefited from the fact that none of the various issues that could have impacted the playing of games happened during football season. That changes today, because football season is finally here, with Game No. 1 of 256 being played tonight.

How many of the next 255 are played remains to be seen. Here’s hoping that, however things play out, the league will find a way to get all games in.

13 responses to “NFL enters 101st season “cautiously optimistic”

  1. I am honestly surprised that we made it this far. Three months ago I would have told you that there would not be a season.

  2. Other sports with no fans in stands are not nearly as appealing to watch but at least it’s a game. It’s an eerie feel to it.

  3. Teams will need to post “safety personnel” in all lobbies and stairwells where the teams are staying because I 100% promise you somebody is going to at least attempt to do something really really stupid. Hormones are undefeated.

  4. The positivity rate in the NFL is closer to what it would be for the rest of us if false positives were taken as seriously for every business or school as they are in the NFL. That billion dollar business has not room or time for false +. The rest of us have to deal with it…..the season will be just fine. If Indiana HS football can be played, with fans, surely the NFL can be played (should be with 1/3 full stadiums too).

  5. The ratings may be good tonight and Florio will pound his liberal chest. Then reality will settle in when it’s revealed that the XFL and that other league started with good ratings only to fizzle at the end. That’s what will happen to the NFL.

    Goodell and the owners will tell the players to stop kneeling during the anthem. Players will get mad and opt to not play. Either way, the NFL will be around Not For Long.

  6. stubborndata says:
    September 10, 2020 at 10:05 am
    The season won’t finish. COVID-19 is undefeated.


    98% of those who tested positive have survived. Only around 6,000 of the 160,000 deaths were co-morbid cases. You obviously don’t know what “undefeated” means.

  7. I will certainly watch, as I have for over 50 years, but I will be monitoring the intensity. And I wish they wouldn’t bother with the fake crowd noise. I would rather hear the trash talk and cursing.

    I stopped watching the NBA playoffs. I think the players should have taken Kyrie’s advice. They just don’t look like they want to be there.

  8. I predict ratings will be way down this year; Covid challenges, lower interest in fantasy than normal, black lives matter challenges, adding teams to the playoffs. There are a number of reasons this will be a lean year.

  9. amyisraelchai1 – You are about 30,000 deaths off with your statistics. 190,000 dead Americans not including the huge spike for deaths caused by “lung problems”

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