It’s safe to say that the 2020 league year will be unlike any the NFL has ever seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic has already left its mark on the early stages of the offseason, with team facilities shut down, travel banned, relying on local physicals for free agents and FaceTiming with draft prospects. Pro Day? Not happening. The draft? It will be in a studio.
That’s what we currently know. What we don’t yet know is how much more will be affected beyond that, but it feels safe to guess that its reach will go beyond the draft as a tentpole, perhaps far beyond. As if this writing, the United States has more total cases, and far more active cases, of the coronavirus than any other country in the world, and it’s still expected to grow worse for weeks to come before a plateau can even be hoped for.
Needless to say, that ha left many in the NFL pessimistic about what is to come. Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass appears to be resigned to the fact that he is not going to be seeing his players any time soon, other than through the phone.
“I just don’t think the OTAs are going to happen at all”, he told the team’s website. “I hope I’m wrong. I’m hoping we can get some players in (the facility) in June, but I’m sort of doubtful of that. The next big date for the players of course will be the opening of training camp. We’re all hopeful that will not be delayed”.
While the league and its constituent teams are currently operating under the assumption that they will have a full NFL season in terms of games played available to them, Cass admits that there is uncertainty lingering over the entirety of the 2020 calendar.
“It’s really hard to know about long-term impacts”, he said. “A lot of that is going to depend on how long the stay-at-home order remains in effect. If it lasts a long time, it could have obviously an effect on our season. No one expects that, but you just don’t know”.
This is a growing and evolving situation that we can only take a day at a time. The less we do to help stop the spread of the virus, the worse it will be, and the increasingly likely it will be that it will continue to affect or way of life in new ways, both personally and professionally. And in terms of our entertainment options, which have become quite limited with so much of the industry in a standstill.