Other than the virus itself, one of the most dangerous aspects of a pandemic is misinformation, and uncertainty. Bad advice supplied by unqualified or motivated individuals can cause a lot of harm, potentially, or at best, simply be unhelpful. It can also grow wearisome to hear the same thing over and over again when there are no concrete answers to be provided.
That appears to be the National Football League’s position, after it sent a memo to all 32 teams that advised them not to comment further about the potential future of the 2020 NFL season as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dozens of owners, coaches, and general managers over the past couple of months have had to field questions about this, and they have given wildly conflicting but all equally meaningless opinions, which always essentially boils down to, ‘I don’t know, but this is kind of what I think might happen’.
“The past few months have been among the most uncertain times that any of us has experienced”, commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo directed to all club owners and executives just before the schedule release last week. “It is impossible to project what the next few months will bring. Uninformed commentary that speculates on how individual clubs or the league will address a range of hypothetical contingencies serves no constructive purpose and instead confuses our fans and business partners, complicates the operations of other clubs, and distracts from the careful planning that is needed right now”.
On the eve of the schedule release, Commissioner Roger Goodell also sent a memo to clubs discouraging public comment by club officials on hypotheticals surrounding the 2020 season, saying in part: “It is impossible to project what the next few months will bring.” pic.twitter.com/Zoyz2RLU5l
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 6, 2020
As of right now, the league has not revealed any of the contingency plans that they have internally discussed, though many details have been leaked, if reports are to be believed. Many interpret the fact that all teams have two home and two away games built into their first four games is a part of the contingency in the event that the season has to be shortened.
“We will continue to work in a deliberate and thoughtful way to plan for the 2020 season”, it went on, “and we will be prepared to address and contingencies as they arise. Clubs should continue to direct questions and concerns to our office and not comment or speculate publicly”.
As mentioned, many, many people within the league had already done that, including members of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, among them general manager Kevin Colbert and owner Art Rooney II. I’m sure Mike Tomlin was asked to answer that question as well at some point.
Of course, there is nothing that the league can do to prevent those outside of themselves from commenting upon and speculating as to whether or not there will be an NFL season, when it will take place, and in what form it might appear.