Unprecedented situations call for unprecedented responses, and that is what pretty much every business imaginable has been facing throughout this year thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. The NFL has been the most fortunate of the major sports leagues because their playing period had just ended when the pandemic hit, but now they are getting to the point where they are supposed to be returning to the fields.
Already it seems all but a certainty that there will be no on-field portion of the offseason for the league until the start of the NFL. Now, the league has let it be known that they are planning for a uniform opening for training camps around the league, with teams expected to open their camps 48 days prior to their regular season opener, which is July 28 for 28 teams (or 47 days for the two teams who play on Monday Night Football).
For the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys, however, they are currently scheduled to open training camp even earlier, on the 22nd, because they are supposed to be playing in the Hall of Fame game. Assuming that the Hall of Fame game actually happens, which is supposed to be held on August 6, then they will need additional time to be ready.
So there you have it. As of right now, July 22 is the Steelers’ start date for training camp, which they now expect to be held at Heinz Field. Whether or not there will be any fans in attendance is not determined yet, but other sports are beginning to work on opening things to audiences, as I wrote about yesterday pertaining to NASCAR.
However, there is a fair chance that the Hall of Fame game will not happen. In that event, which should be determined within the next few weeks, it is likely that the Steelers and Cowboys will have their training camp start dates pushed back to the uniform date of the 28th.
Adding to the uncertainty, we don’t know what training camp is going to look like this year. On top of the pandemic, the Collective Bargaining Agreement has introduced new rules about how it is conducted, including how soon and how often teams can practice with pads on.
The NFL and NFLPA will be in negotiations—and in talks with medical experts—about best practices when it comes to getting training camp going. Perhaps they can learn something from the NCAA, which has already begun in-person voluntary workouts.
Meanwhile, the other major sports leagues in the United States should be up and running by the time training camps are supposed to open. Once again, the NFL will take this as a learning opportunity about how they can run their season safely and with entertainment value.