Whether or not football will be played this year is still to be determined. No definitive decisions have to be made with previously scheduled training camp report dates three months away.
In the meantime, however, the NFL is trying to proceed with business as usual, demonstrated this past weekend by moving ahead — and successfully so — with the NFL Draft. Next on the league’s agenda will be releasing its schedule for the 2020 season.
As reported by Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Ben Fischer, the NFL is developing several different variations of the 2020 schedule to account for whatever scenarios may result from the continuing COVID-19 shutdown.
For instance, one version could begin five weeks later than would have normally been scheduled, kicking off Thursday, Oct. 15. That would push Super Bowl LV, set to be played in Tampa, back three weeks to Feb. 28. To accommodate the abbreviated schedule, the regular season would have no bye weeks and eliminate the off-week between the conference championship games and Super Bowl.
This scenario would eliminate the Pro Bowl, a development that likely wouldn’t disappoint many football fans (though the all-star exhibition still draws strong ratings), yet could complicate some contract incentives for teams and players.
A 16-game, 17-week regular season schedule is still viewed as a priority, however.
The 2020 NFL schedule could be released as early as May 7, but league executives are wary of releasing anything that could change due to any number of factors. But maintaining business as usual is viewed as important to TV partners, sponsors, and ticket holders.
Additionally, the league doesn’t want the bad perception that would come with proceeding contrarily to whatever edicts various governors may have in place for their respective states regarding stay-at-home orders and restrictions on large gatherings.
Click over to SBJ to see what maneuvers the NFL schedule would make to allow a five-week regular season delay and three-week delay for Super Bowl LV.