Not since perhaps World War II has there been greater uncertainty over the state of the NFL and its upcoming season than now. While there have been strikes and lockouts and even replacement players in between, the coronavirus pandemic that nation is currently going through is truly a black cloud hanging over everything, and through which any light that may be emitted from the end of the tunnel is obscured.
Virtually everything in the United States has ground to a halt, not the least of which being the sporting world, to no surprise. Most leagues tried to stick it out as long as they could, even being willing to play without fans, but it wasn’t long before everything would be canceled, suspended, or postponed in some form or fashion.
The NFL had the good fortune of being in its offseason, so it has not as of yet affected them in terms of actually playing their games. But as we sit here in the early days of April, with the death toll rising every day and continuing to grow worse, doubts creep in as to how close to ‘normal’ we could be by September.
“Nobody knows what our calendar is right now. No changes have been made, but something that continues to be monitored and watched”, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recently said, in speaking to the team’s website about what is currently known.
“What we have to do as an organization is be prepared for whatever because nobody knows what the next step is”, he added. “I know Coach Tomlin will be prepared. We will be prepared by supplying him with the right types of players. He and his staff will be prepared with whatever training recommended that the League has put under moving forward. But nobody has an idea at this point”.
A number of people have commented in unofficial capacities to give their opinions as to what they believe will happen. For the time being, the league is operating under the assuming that they will be able to play a 16-game season and that they will be able to do so on time.
As the weeks and months go by, we may well find that the league will have to modify that strategy, shortening the season or pushing it back. Or they may have to seek some sort of alternative arrangement, such as playing in a neutral territory with no crowds.
It is disconcerting simply to think that this all could still be going on an affecting or lives and businesses in such a profound way five months from now, but these are the times we are living in. Things will continue to get worse before they get better. And ‘better’ is still a long way off from ‘normal’.