What to Expect From the NFL in 2020

We’re nearing the end of August, and 3 of the 4 major sports leagues are back in full swing between the playoffs and regular season. There have definitely been bumps along the road, especially with the MLB, but each league has been able to put a solid plan together which has allowed them to continue the seasons from where it started. However, there’s still one league that has yet to start, and that’s the NFL. 

The NFL had the luxury of having this virus outbreak occur right after the Super Bowl, and extend into their off-season, where most of their usual business was mostly uninterrupted, besides a modified draft process.With that being said I’m expecting the NFL to be an absolute mess this year, as the first game is in just two and a half weeks and there have been very little done by the league to say how they will protect players from Covid. 

(Picture Credit: Empire Sports Media)

The MLB, NFL, and NBA each took their own different approach to return to play protocol, but all in all they each had similar attributes that made the players feel safe enough to rejoin their teams. The NHL and NBA bubbles have definitely been the most successful form of return to a play plan and although the MLB is traveling like normal, they aren’t allowing fans in the stadium and have implemented new rules that have tried to keep the players as safe as possible. Not having fans has been the one big consistent factor between these leagues, and that’s one thing the NFL has no plan for, the fans. In fact each organization has been making their own decisions on whether or not they will allow fans in the stands this year, which is a complicated situation to follow. For example, the Texans, Jets, and Patriots among a few other teams have announced that fans will not be allowed at their stadiums for at least the first game, first month of the year, or until further notice. There’s also the Raiders who announced that there will be no fans for the entirety of the 2020 season, their first year in Las Vegas. In comparison, there are also a lot of organizations who will be allowing fans into the stadiums, but each of them will be at different capacities. Some of these teams include the Dolphins (20% capacity), Colts (25% capacity), Chiefs (16,000 fans or about 22% capacity), and the Cowboys (Projected to be around 40-45% capacity). Now I personally feel like this is an absolute recipe for disaster, especially with organizations like the Cowboys who are going to be allowing close to half of the normal amount of fans back into the stadium during a worldwide pandemic. 

Listen I would love to go to a hockey or baseball game right now, or even any sport for that matter, but it’s not the time for that. Fans in the stands should be the absolute last thing that teams should be doing when talking about Covid percausitions. It needs to start with how you’re going to test the players and keep them safe on and off the field, but the NFL hasn’t shown that they can do this yet.

(Picture Credit: Mile High Report)

The NFL is testing, but this past week there were multiple players on multiple teams who tested positive for the virus, and after a second test it showed that all 79 of them were negative, which I thought was very odd. I don’t know if that falls on the doctors or lab technicians for messing up the tests or the NFL for trying to cover up how many of their players actually have the virus, but I found that very fishy and hope that all players were truly negative for the sake of the NFL. 

The NFL really thought that they could just push these Covid problems under the table because they thought it wouldn’t be a problem once the season rolled around in the fall and guess what, now they’re in trouble. I get that each team only has eight games to make some revenue, but there won’t be any games at all if we allow too many fans in the stadium and another breakout occurs. The league also hasn’t specified how they’re going to limit these players from going out and getting the virus at clubs and bars. Take the Cleveland Indians for example, two of their pitchers went out from the team hotel when they weren’t supposed to and were promptly reprimanded by the team by being sent to the minor league camp, which will ultimately cost them money in free agency in the near future. 

(Picture Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

I hate to say it but if the NFL doesn’t set up protocol like these other leagues where players have to stay in their hotels to quarantine and stay safe, then the season will last even quicker then it began. Even if none of these guidelines are put in place do you really think that teams are going to set their own guidelines that forbid players from going out? Absolutely not. These owners are only in the game to make money, and the way they make money is by winning games. So if you’re one of the only teams to set guidelines and you have a few of your best players go out to a party, do you really believe that the owners will suspend them or fine them? Probably not but you can’t say for sure.  

For me it’s just frustrating to see other leagues taking such proper precautions and then there’s the NFL, who’s sloppily putting together a season for the 2020. The blueprints are there with the NBA and NHL, all they have to do is copy them and it will work. Sure, it would've been a bigger more complicated operation, but you had months upon months to set something like that up and you didn’t. Unfortunately, the NFL didn’t think this was going to be their problem to deal with, but they were wrong and know they’re going to have to deal with it and I believe they’re now going to pay for the price for their laziness.

- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23 

Leave a comment