With uncertain times ahead, the NFL continues to push ahead toward an on-time 2020 kickoff.
The NFL is expecting to play a full season in 2020, with the exception of the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Along with the cancellation of the game itself, the Hall of Fame ceremonies will also be postponed, possibly until 2021. This would pair up with the scheduled 2021 Hall of Fame inductions, and potentially make for quite the celebration. With the date of the Hall of Fame game and surrounding ceremonies fast approaching in early August, coupled with the large crowd expected at both events, the NFL felt best to cancel the events by the advice of the local and federal health officials.
The NFL has been relatively unaffected by the current pandemic that shut down the NBA and NHL seasons, as well as postponing the MLB season. Those three sports are expected to resume within the next month or so under unprecedented safety precautions. The NFL has continued to stick to their regular schedule of events, holding the NFL Draft, the free agency period, offseason workouts, team and league meetings, and conference calls. The difference this time around? All of these have been completed virtually. No in-person meetings and no get-togethers. Although, some small workouts with multiple players have been held, some allowed and others frowned upon. In such a strange time, all of us have had to make regular adjustments to the latest information provided by health officials, and the NFL is no different.
As of now, there is no further expectation for cancellations, but there is no such thing as a sure thing. The NFL, however, remains confident in the expectation of holding and completing a full regular and postseason.
A 13-page memo was sent to owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) regarding the expectations and requirements for facilities to reopen. The league has also been looking into what safety measures will take place from now through the duration of the season, including daily saliva tests, PCR tests every three days and sanitizing each ball in play. League officials and the NFLPA are in constant discussion regarding what the safety protocols will look like now and moving forward.
Training camps are expected to begin on July 28th. The Cowboys and Steelers were going to be allowed to open camp one week early due to the Hall of Fame Game, but now with the cancellation of the game, the two teams will open camp with the rest of the league. Only time will tell whether or not the league will get underway on time or not, regardless of the fact that fans may not be allowed in the venues. But that discussion can be saved for a later date.
CIH Media Contributor