So many things can change between now and the presumptive start of the 2020 regular season for the NFL—including a delay in the start of said season. Large parts of the world right now are in literal or virtual lockdown as the global community continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the worst of which may very well be yet to come.
So many industries, particularly in the sphere of entertainment, have ground to a virtual halt, with every major league in the country suspending its seasons. Even the NFL, currently in an offseason, has already made significant changes to its calendar and is bracing for more down the road, should it become necessary.
Team facilities are currently completely shut down to all but essential personnel until at least April 8, but the closing will surely be renewed at that date, given the extreme unlikelihood that the country has approached anything resembling normality by that point in time.
The NFL Draft, which takes place just weeks after that, has been confirmed to go on as planned, or at least when planned, but will be broadcast in a very different form, in a studio with minimal personnel, and teams will be operating remotely, with no players in attendance.
But what about the game? What do we know about games, this far out? Not much, but we do have opinions. For example, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank recently told Peter King that if he were forced to speculate right now, his guess is that the season would begin as planned.
“Only because it’s so far away from where we are today”, he hastened to add. “I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature. No fan attendance. Things like that. We may have fewer preseason games, which probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I think by September, my hope is by the time the regular season starts, that we’ll be able to bring people together in some form or fashion in a safe manner and play”.
We are about five and a half months away from the projected start of the regular season. I’m sure we all sincerely hope that we are living in a very different world by then, but the reality is that we simply can’t know that. We are not even currently at the worst that this thing is going to get in the country, so it’s hard to look at the light at the end of the tunnel—or even to see it.
“I do think we need football now”, he also said. “I also think that people want a diversion. People want to be optimistic. People want to think about things that are really good times for themselves and their families and their loved ones and their communities. I think to have that kind of hope and aspiration mixed into your daily life is important”.
It’s good to have something to hope for, to look forward to, to strive for. Unfortunately, in this particular case, there’s very little anybody can do outside of simply staying at home to really impact this crisis unless they are a frontline healthcare worker.