In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has been considering a number of contingency plans for its regular season and postseason schedules, and now we have a couple of details on those contingencies.
Per John Ourand and Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal, the league and its broadcast partners are doing whatever possible to play a full 16-game slate and to play the Super Bowl in February. One way in which that could happen would be to have the regular season start on Oct. 15, to eliminate bye weeks and Pro Bowl week, and to play the Super Bowl on Feb. 28. Ourand and Fischer have more details on the logistics of such an arrangement.
That is obviously less than ideal, but it might be the best the NFL can anticipate. The schedule is due to be released on May 9, but there are some within the league office who are still wondering if any announcement should be made that soon (the worry is that a schedule release will look like a challenge to politicians such as California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has previously expressed skepticism that professional sports can resume in 2020).
Regardless, the schedule will look like the usual 17-week, 16-game version, but it will be designed to allow for a number of changes such as those referenced above, and it will be released with an emphasis on the possible contingencies. And, while Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins remains focused on having his city host the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 as scheduled, conversations about pushing it back one week have already taken place, and it seems as if every Sunday in February is on the table at this point.
Meanwhile, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission has already announced that the 2021 NFL Draft will be held from April 29-May 1, 2021, in downtown Cleveland, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Hopefully, that event will be able to proceed as planned.