At the end of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference on Thursday, he was joined onstage by NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith for a few minutes.
The two men discussed the way that cooperation between the NFL and NFLPA in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic made the 2020 season possible because they worked together to find solutions to big problems. One of those solutions was to conduct offseason programs remotely and the fact that it didn’t result in a negative outcome on the field will lead to further discussions about how offseasons will look.
NFLPA president and Browns center JC Tretter said at the end of the regular season that the experience of this season should lead to permanent changes to the offseason schedule and said at the NFLPA’s Thursday press conference that he and others felt “physically better and mentally sharper” than they did in past years. He credited that to avoiding the “never-ending grind” of a typical year and Smith echoed those comments.
“I think that every one of these guys who have lived in a football world for a very long time saw their teams do a lot of things differently, but let’s just put differently to the side. It was smarter,” Smith said. “So the fact that you just didn’t have guys holed up in a facility for hours on end, just killing time. The fact that we are actually able to do things via teleconference and Skype and Zoom, it’s all about being smarter. At the end of the day, what will happen is we have our annual rep meetings in March. We’ll continue to talk to the players about the things that they think were a better and smarter way of playing football and I think some of those things, most of things don’t have anything to do with COVID.”
Goodell said at his press conference that it’s too early to know exactly what the offseason and 2021 season is going to look like, but said that “virtual is going to be a part of our lives” in the future. How much a part it will play is going to be a subject of debate this offseason.