The sporting world was at an unprecedented standstill. But the league most prepared to handle COVID-19 may still have a question mark on their hands. The NFL offseason was still relatively new when the other leagues suspended operations. But it doesn’t mean things will go according to plan.
Pat McAfee recently speculated the league is considering a delay of some sort on his YouTube show that got people buzzing.
The NFL during COVID-19
The COVID-19 scare shut down most of the world just a few weeks after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. While the NBA and MLB had to suspend their seasons immediately, the NFL had the luxury of sitting back and waiting when it came to their upcoming seasons. This doesn’t mean that they went business, as usual, however.
The league immediately put strict restrictions on practice and league facilities. When it came time for the NFL Draft, the association was one of several to try a digital format in which Roger Goodell announced draft picks from his basement and front offices everywhere joined in via Zoom. As the world, specifically sports, begin to open up, however, the NFL’s next step is still widely unknown.
Players are beginning to question what the league’s plan is once the season starts, and even though the NBA and MLB are on the verge of restarting themselves, the NFL’s restart might not go as smoothly as one expected, given the circumstances.
What can the NFL do?
Although the league has barred owners from publicly speculating about COVID-19, nobody has ever succeeded in keeping Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis quiet. He recently opened up to ESPN about what he sees as three possible ways for the NFL to proceed. Davis was blunt when talking about these possibilities, acknowledging the uncertainty of the current times.
First, they can go on as planned, with teams reporting to training camp in late-July. Second, they could delay the season and get rid of inter-conference games to allow for a 12-game season. Third, and most drastic, they could cancel the season altogether and worry about the following year.
“I don’t even know if it’s safe to play. ‘Uncertainty’ is the word,” Davis said (per ESPN). “Everything is up in the air with the virus and how it will affect our league and season.”
Despite its head start on matters, the NFL has been coy and quiet with regards to the coronavirus outbreak. However, if Pat McAfee is to be believed, the league is planning.
What will the NFL do?
McAfee, who acknowledged that he’s been wrong about things in the past, stated that sources from within the league had told him that the league already has safety guards in place with regards to the Super Bowl weekend.
“I’ve been told that the NFL has the rights to the Hotels that they currently have in Tampa for an extended four weeks after the Super Bowl is to be played,” McAfee said on his YouTube show. So, ‘Why would they have those rights?’ you have to ask. Why would they have those rights to first refusal for those hotels an entire month after the Super Bowl is to be played there?”
This could mean a lot of things. On the one hand, it could mean that the quiet NFL is trying to plan in the event of a delay happens. On the other, it could be a hint that some sort of delay is inevitable. In reality, until the NFL actually tells people what is happening, everything from fans inside the stadiums to a canceled preseason, to any possible delay is up in the air.
The NFL had the best position of any sporting league in March, but as their season inches closer, they could be more unprepared than any of them when the season restarts in the coming months.