The NFL is back. It feels impossible, as it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the NFL would be lost to the virus that has rocked 2020 everywhere. But training camps went off without a hitch, and the NFL will be back full-bore on Sunday. And, like the rest of pro sports, things will look a bit different.
The NHL and NBA have been able to masterfully pull off their respective bubbles to finish out their season that was already in progress. But it’s one thing to finish out a season versus starting anew, much like Major League Baseball had to do. The NFL is much too big to pull off a bubble scenario (with 150 players+staff per team), so it looked like things may go the way of the Big Ten and Pac-12 football seasons. Instead, it looks like the NFL will at least be able to start their season relatively unscathed by COVID.
So, what’s going to look different? For starters, schedules have a little added room for COVID contingencies, and the entire preseason was scrapped. There was a time when it looked like the Major Leauge Baseball season was going to be canceled (TV partners were told to ready alternate programming) when the Cardinals saw a few weeks of games wiped out by a COVID-outbreak, but the league was able to right the ship. The NFL will face the same hurdles, but unlike baseball, one missed game (or, god forbid a big outbreak, several weeks) for a team could wreak havoc elsewhere in the league.
The early returns have been good for the league, which has conducted tens of thousands of tests with only a tiny handful (less than 10) positives, only one of which was a player. So, there’s reason for optimism. Still, once you add travel into the situation, things can get a little hairier.
Another big change this year has been the increased practice squads, which is why you have a 41-year-old quarterback on a practice squad for the first time. Like the MLB and NBA, you won’t see fans, at least at most stadiums. In what is a first of all the major sports, there will be a couple of teams that have *some* fans in stands. Right now, it’s around a third of the league that will see fans in the stands at some point in the season. However, most of those stadiums will be at 10 percent or less capacity, so we’re talking a few thousand fans. I may be in the minority, but I think that could look kind of cool, and I’ll take it over the cardboard fans the MLB is rocking.
Starting tomorrow, celebrations are back and better than ever.
— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2020
Like everywhere else in society, you’ll see a lot of masks. Coaches and sideline personnel are required to wear them. The Players must wear them to and from games, and in some cities, EVERYONE (players included) on the sideline must be wearing them. There was even discussion about helmet enhancements. But we’ll definitely see guys come off the field after a huge play and have to throw on a mask.
But, even with all those changes and empty (or near-empty) stadiums, the NFL is back. And with it, the Fantasy Football season is in full swing. Before we know it, we’ll be talking more about an overhyped Cleveland Browns team entirely collapsing and things will feel a lot more like normal.
— NFL345 (@NFL345) September 9, 2020