COVID-19 Could Force the NFL to Call a Major Audible on Super Bowl 55
In the world of sports, few events are bigger than the Super Bowl. Whether you’re an NFL fan or not, the big game is must-see TV; for a few hours on that fateful Sunday, virtually everything is overshadowed by football. This season, however, COVID-19 could shake up Super Bowl Sunday quite a bit.
According to an NFL executive, the NFL is prepared to move the Super Bowl back as many as four weeks, should the situation warrant it. That would mean there’s a chance of the big game being played as late as March 2021.
Even the NFL has had to adjust to the realities of COVID-19
Under normal circumstances, the NFL has enough financial clout to do more or less as it pleases; 2020, however, has been a bit different. COVID-19 doesn’t care about the league’s money or unique place in American pop culture.
The first major change came in the spring when the league’s annual entry draft was sacrificed in the name of safety. Coming into the year, the event was supposed to be a massive, multi-day affair, spreading across the Las Vegas Strip; instead, the draft moved entirely online. That alteration, however, was only the beginning.
Once it became clear that things wouldn’t go back to normal in time for football season, the NFL and the NFLPA came together to hammer out some additional changes. Players were given a chance to opt-out of the campaign; those who remained active had to follow the league’s safety and testing protocols. Preseason games were completely canceled, and, nearly halfway through the season, some teams are still playing in empty stadiums.
The Super Bowl could be played as late as March 2021
Under ordinary circumstances, the Super Bowl takes place in early February, officially wrapping up the NFL season. 2020, however, has been anything but ordinary.
In a recent virtual pep rally, Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy confirmed that this year’s Super Bowl could happen much later. While everyone hopes that the rest of the schedule plays out without a hitch, the NFL seems prepared to play the big game as late as March 2021, if the situation calls for it.
We could move the Super Bowl back as far as four weeks,” Murphy explained, according to a video shared by Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV. “Obviously, we’d prefer not to do that, but you do have that flexibility if we run into a number of outbreaks with different teams or if we have to kind of move the schedule back.”
What would have to happen to push the Super Bowl to March 2021?
While playing the Super Bowl in March is theoretically on the table, don’t start changing your plans just yet. It would take some major issues to force the NFL to make such a drastic change.
As explained by CBS Sports’ John Breech, a delayed Super Bowl would theoretically mean the NFL has had to push the regular season past Week 17 due to COVID-19 concerns. “When it comes to scheduling, the problem for the NFL right now is that a total of 10 teams have already had a bye this year and if any of those teams are forced to postpone a future game, the league will likely have to add a Week 18 to make it work,” he explained.
One extra week would, in theory, push the Super Bowl back to February 14; each additional issue would theoretically slide things back to February 21, February 28, and, if necessary, March 7.
2020 has already been full of unprecedented twists and turns. Playing the Super Bowl in March would simply be another footnote to add to the history books.