The 9:30 AM ET kickoff is dead, at least for the 2020 NFL season.

On Monday, the NFL announced that all of its games this season would take place in the United States, meaning that four London games and one Mexico City would be moved stateside.

Notably, in the league’s statement, the NFL noted that they planned on resuming the international games in 2021.

“After considerable analysis, we believe the decision to play all our games domestically this season is the right one for our players, our clubs, and all our fans in the US, Mexico and UK,” said NFL Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer Christopher Halpin.  “We greatly appreciate the support of our governmental and stadium partners in Mexico and the United Kingdom, who all agree with this decision, and we look forward to returning for games in both countries in the 2021 season.

“We also thank our incredible fans in those territories for their passionate support of the NFL. We will continue to serve them through our outstanding media partners and by being active supporters of both grassroots football and COVID-19 relief efforts in Mexico and the UK.” ​

The Arizona Cardinals were poised to host the Mexico City game, while the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars (twice) would have hosted games in London.

Last season, the kickoff times of the London games were inconsistent. The Week 5 Bears-Raiders game kicked off in the 1 PM ET window on Fox, while a week later, Panthers-Bucs was dumped in the 9:30 AM ET window on NFL Network. Week 8’s Bengals-Rams game also kicked off at 1 PM ET on CBS, and Week 9’s Texans-Jaguars game aired at 9:30 AM ET on NFL Network. In the two “normal” windows, the “home” team was a west coast team, while in the two early windows, the “home” team was an east coast team. With four east coast teams being scheduled to host the London games this season, logic dictates that all four of those games would have kicked off at 9:30 AM ET.

That early kickoff window will now be gone for the 2020 season, which is a net positive for fans, and probably a net negative for the league, since it can’t dominate a sixth (sixth? Yeah, sixth) window for four weeks of the season.

The cancellations also give the NFL a little more flexibility in planning its schedule. Traditionally, teams that play in London (and for the last two years, the teams that were scheduled to play in Mexico City) have a bye week following their game abroad. With the cancellation of those international games, byes for the teams involved in the international games can be a bit more fluid.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.