The ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States has meant that premier sports leagues in the country are left contemplating the futures of their current seasons. Despite not being affected like the other sports leagues - namely the NBA and MLB - NFL officials are reportedly discussing how to move forward with the 2020 NFL schedule.
According to reports in the US, the current lockdown due to COVID-19 could force some major changes to the 2020 season. The Washington Post reports that NFL officials are constantly discussing if the upcoming season should be delayed or started as scheduled. It is believed that the hierarchy is considering closing the stadiums for the fans at the beginning of the season. Another plan on the table is allowing a certain percentage of fans to be allowed in the stadium during the opening stages. The league executives are reportedly also discussing a shorter format for the upcoming season.
From our story: The NFL's contingency planning includes the possibilities of games being played in empty or partially filled stadiums. But the league remains hopeful of widespread testing, perhaps for fans as well as players, by the fall, and expects public health advisories.— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) April 15, 2020
According to an NFL statement released by The Washington Post, the league owners are continuing to plan for the 2020 season and are also prepared to make adjustments as deemed necessary by the authorities and the executives. The statement read, 'We have said, we are committed to protecting the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and communities. We look forward to the 2020 NFL season, and our guidelines and decisions will be guided by the latest advice from medical and public health officials, as well as current and future government regulations.'
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump announced that he enlisted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell along with the commissioners of NBA and MLB and other prominent sports leaders into his advisory panel. Trump reportedly believes restarting sports in the country will be key for the nation's 'sleeping economy' amid the pandemic.
NFL has already been forced to make major changes to its off-season programs due to the lockdown. The 2020 NFL Draft was moved out of Las Vegas and shifted to a completely virtual format. Even the off-season program for the 32 teams will be conducted virtually until the club facilities remain closed. The NFL's schedule for the 2020 regular season is expected to be released around mid-May, which will reportedly factor in games being lost by a potential delayed start.