Roger Goodell has said multiple times that the plan is for the league to start on time with the schedule that will be released in a few weeks.
But the league knows the COVID-19 pandemic could force some significant maneuvering.
According to John Ourand and Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the NFL has discussed several alternatives, including the possibility of starting the season in October, having no bye weeks, no Pro Bowl and playing the Super Bowl on February 28 instead of February 7.
NFL schedule-makers are in the process of designing a 2020 season that has several different wrinkles. When the schedule is released next month, it will look like a standard 16-game, 17-week slate, but it will be designed to allow for several steps that could become necessary depending on the state of the pandemic.
In one version, the start of the season could be delayed by up to five weeks with relatively few adjustments. Such a scenario would have Super Bowl LV, currently set for Feb. 7, 2021 in Tampa, pushed back by three weeks. If that happens, it could compete with other big events that typically try to avoid Super Bowl Sunday.
Two weeks of early-season games could be shifted wholesale to the end of the season. A third week would feature teams only playing opponents with the same bye week, so that week could be cut and byes eliminated leaguewide.
As of now, it’s just too early to know where we’ll be as a country in September. But one things is for sure: The NFL is preparing for all outcomes.
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