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NFL Considers Expanded Playoffs If Covid Intervenes

NFL Considers Expanded Playoffs If Covid Intervenes

At least someone is making contingency plans just in case the COVID-19 pandemic gets any worse, which it has given every indication of doing.  The NFL owners had a 2-hour video meeting earlier this week and came up with a workable just-in-case plan should the current season get cut short due to the virus spreading into NFL locker rooms and putting a sizeable percentage of a teams’ players on the IR.  The playoffs could look a lot different should that happen.

The NFL Playoffs Might See Changes

Best intentions and optimism are laudable; however, the league saw a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases during its latest round of testing for the virus.  Even Commissioner Roger Goodell has had to admit that an alternative plan is called for in case the situation gets completely out of hand resulting in not all of the teams in the NFL getting to play all of their 16 games this year.

Should that worst case scenario come to pass, the league, as per the owners, will expand the NFL postseason venue from 14 to 16 teams, with eight coming from the AFC and the other eight from the NFC.  This will be enacted should more NFL games end up getting canceled.  But no one is really sure at this point,  speculation has already begun over how a 16 team bracket would look, and, of course, who will win it all.


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Outside factors could also shut down the season prematurely.  On a recent conference call, NFL Goodell said once again that the league is committed to playing a complete regular season in the 17 weeks set forth in the NFL 2020 schedule.

COVID-19 Refuses To Let Go

However, there is growing concern over the number of positive tests that are coming out of the NFL COVID-19 testing program.  So far, a total of 56 NFL employees, including 15 players and 41 staff members, have come up with positive tests between November 1-7.  That is the worst result so far in the league’s testing.

At the beginning of the season, various games had to be canceled or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Then, things settled down a bit and the league has managed to play scheduled games as scheduled for the most part after the NFL decided to isolate any high risk close contacts for five days; however, health officials have argued that five days in not long enough to determine if a person is carrying the virus or not.

The NBA played its season in a bubble in Orlando utilizing the facilities at Disney World to isolate the teams from the rest of the world and keep them relatively safe.  Some have suggested that the NFL do the same, but the league decided against the bubble idea at a meeting last summer.

The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said in an interview earlier this week that the task of isolating the team from infection in harder in light of the rising spread in the community and stating that several of the 41 staff members who tested positive were front office employees who had zero contact with the players and coaches.


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More Diversity Coming To The League

Both the owners and the coaches must also keep in mind that, in the US alone, over 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 infections have cropped up for the past seven consecutive days.  Meanwhile, the owners are going about their merry way, discussing their praise worthy plans to hire more minority coaches and executive staff and rewarding the teams that do make such hires with extra picks in the NFL Draft, and hoping that the pandemic will just go away.

The NFL’s vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, said he would “try to increase mobility amount in particular Black coaches and females as well in the coach and the GM front,” adding that he is “looking forward to seeing what the offseason has to bring in the hiring cycle.”  Let’s just hope that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control by this coming summer and we can all go out and play once again.

Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

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