As much as the NFL has tried to maintain its stance on how the upcoming season would run, it might end up having to make some changes because of the coronavirus pandemic. For now, there haven’t been any announcements made about altering regular-season schedules, but talk has begun about possibly having to shorten the NFL preseason schedule in order to overcome the continued effects of COVID-19.
As long as the league doesn’t cut into the regular season to remove any pieces, football fans should remain relatively happy.
NFL Preseason May Be Shorter Than Expected
The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have already agreed, through the approval of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), to reduce the number of preseason games each season. The idea is to cut back from the normal four games held in an effort to better protect players’ health, but the two sides are now talking about making the reduction start with the upcoming season, instead of waiting for the new CBA to become effective.
If an agreement is reached, there will only be two preseason games this year, which most teams will most likely appreciate. Preseason games give teams the opportunity to find out who will excel and who will choke during live action, but there are also a number of risks involved – injuries, giving up information out of playbooks and more. For this upcoming season, striking two preseason games will also give teams more time to create and implement game-day protocols and player testing to continue compliance with health regulations in response to the coronavirus.
The idea has apparently not yet been approved by the NFL and the NFLPA and is only just now being discussed. As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network explains on Twitter, “The NFL and NFLPA are discussing the possibility of shortening the 2020 preseason, per sources. Nothing finalized or imminent, but multiple team executives informed of talks currently believe they could end up playing two preseason games, rather than four.”
NFL Players Start To Get Ready For Training Camps
The NFL still doesn’t have a solid foundation for being able to start the season on time, but is working desperately to stay on track. Players are not yet ready to begin live practices and won’t be able to suit up and get into the action until training camps are started next month. The camps typically begin in July, but the league is in a holding pattern currently, waiting to be given the green light from health and government authorities to take to the fields.
When they are able to hit the practice facilities, players are going to have to be ready to accept certain changes they haven’t seen before. The NFL and the NFLPA have already agreed to a series of measures designed to protect everyone involved in football operations, and the changes start as soon as players and coaches arrive at the facilities.
Players will have to be ready to submit to a temperature check upon arrival at the facility. At the same time, they will be grilled about their health and their recent activities, such as where they have been and if they have been in contact with anyone who had been infected with the coronavirus. If they pass that checkpoint, players will then have to wear a facemask inside the facility at all times, unless they’re on the field practicing. Strength and conditioning routines will have to have better management in order to limit the number of players using equipment at any given time.
While some players may feel that all of these measures are exaggerated, it’s the new normal and they’re going to have to get used to the changes. Hopefully, they’ll only be temporary, but the NFL doesn’t want to have to end up like all the other sports leagues, which are now scrambling to try to recuperate hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.