The NFL is planning to release its schedule at some point late next week. It will include the usual 17-week, 16-game slate, though contingency plans are believed to be built in within it. One notable adjustment, however, is not yet on the table.
While the NBA and Major League Baseball have discussed holding games at centralized locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has not put such a scenario on the table, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports. Empty stadiums have been discussed, but as of now, it sounds like those sites will be in teams’ home cities.
This proves interesting because of the increased personnel the NFL requires compared to the two other major American sports. NFL teams will have 55-man rosters this season, which is obviously much higher than the NBA’s or MLB’s game-day numbers. Each team then employs dozens of coaches, training staffs, executives and various other personnel. That would require a massive coronavirus testing undertaking, one that would include fewer variables if centralized location(s) were used. Coupled with the uncertainty of playing games in certain states ravaged most by the pandemic, the viability of holding contests in certain cities is in doubt. Travel may still be an issue by this point as well.
The NBA has discussed congregating at Disney World in Orlando, while the MLB season occurring at spring training sites in Florida and Arizona surfaced weeks ago. As of now, no NFL teams are allowed in their respective facilities. As long as any state has a stay-at-home order, the NFL’s offseason must continue to be a virtual process.
The NFL’s schedule is also not expected to include Saturday games, Fowler adds. This comes after a report indicated the league has discussed moving some games to Saturdays — in the event college football postpones or cancels its season. It is not certain if this means the NFL will not still consider moving games to Saturdays, but it sounds like the Thursday-Sunday-Monday setup will be what appears on the schedule when it’s released next week.