Not even the NFL could totally skirt by the COVID-19 pandemic. From changing the entire format of the NFL draft to discussing players wearing face shields, the virus has totally changed the way we look at sports and life. With concerns that the 2020 NFL season could be in jeopardy, NFL fans just scored a huge win against COVID-19 thanks to the NFLPA. It’s go time.
COVID-19 has had a major impact on the NFL
When COVID-19 first started entering into our lexicon, most people probably envisioned it passing over. Unfortunately, the pandemic has only grown over the last few months. That resulted in multiple sports leagues pausing or canceling their seasons entirely. The XFL, which looked highly promising in its second rendition, shut down altogether.
The NFL couldn’t even escape the wrath of COVID-19. Despite plans for an awe-inspiring 2020 NFL draft in Las Vegas, viewers instead watched Roger Goodell read players’ names from his basement. At least the NFL commissioner didn’t have to deal with the time-tested tradition of fans booing him mercilessly on stage.
The COVID-19 pandemic also took a bite out of one key aspect of the 2020 NFL season: organized team activities and mini-camps. Those went by the wayside, as social distancing measures prohibited teams from taking part in the springtime training process.
While some players have shown no hesitation in working out with their teammates, others have had to face the harsh reality that playing this season may not be such a sound idea. But for NFL fans and the dedicated athletes who put their bodies on the line, Friday represented a massive step in the right direction.
The NFLPA just guaranteed the 2020 NFL season will take place
Recent speculation surrounding the 2020 NFL season centered on a few key issues. Obviously player safety ranked atop the list. After all, there would be no NFL without the tremendously talented, hard-working men who sacrifice their physical well-being to entertain millions of fans worldwide.
With concerns about how exactly the NFL would protect its players, coaches, and other staff from COVID-19, the NFLPA dug its heels in. Without agreeing to proposed changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the possibility remained that the 2020 NFL season could be in trouble.
However, on Friday, multiple reporters broke the news that the NFLPA player reps approved the proposed changes to the CBA. ProFootball Talk detailed some of the measures that will take place that will hopefully protect players as they prepare for training camp.
That means COVID-19 testing will begin on Tuesday around the league and a second round of tests will follow on the fourth day of camp. Players who test negative twice will then be allowed into team facilities and camp will proceed. Daily testing will take place for the first two weeks of camp and move to every other day if the positive rate is below five percent at that point.
In addition, the NFL and NFLPA reps agreed to not make any changes to the 2020 salary cap. So with football back in the fold, NFL fans can look forward to watching their favorite team get back on the field. But what teams should we consider Super Bowl favorites for the 2020 NFL season?
Who are the true Super Bowl contenders?
Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory in 50 years. Armed with a $503 million contract and a deep cast of explosive weapons, Mahomes and the Chiefs should still dominate an underrated AFC West. Of course, capturing the No. 1 seed will be critical now that the NFL will only give home-field advantage to the top seed.
The Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots should challenge the Chiefs for AFC supremacy. Lamar Jackson broke out as the league’s MVP last year. Baltimore added dynamic running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the draft, which gives offensive coordinator Greg Roman another weapon at his disposal.
The Patriots obviously lost Tom Brady, which certainly makes their Super Bowl path more difficult. However, if Bill Belichick and Cam Newton can mesh their talents, New England will be in the mix.
Moving to the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys may not have gotten a deal done with Dak Prescott, but Jerry Jones’ team absolutely has the talent on both sides of the ball to earn a spot in Super Bowl 54. Head coach Mike McCarthy should have fun drawing up plays for Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and exciting first-round rookie CeeDee Lamb.
Of course, the San Francisco 49ers will look to defend their NFC crown. That could get difficult if running back Raheem Mostert gets his wish. However, Kyle Shanahan still ranks as one of the best head coaches in the NFL, and San Francisco’s defense got a big boost in the form of Javon Kinlaw.
Ultimately, just watching football will help a lot of fans deal with the downsides of the COVID-19 pandemic. And thanks to the NFLPA, the 2020 NFL season is here to stay.