A full regular season without any coronavirus-related delay is the current expectation of the NFL for the 2020 season.
A schedule is to be released on or before May 9, which is later than usual but not cause for concern, executive vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash said Tuesday.
NFL officials said Tuesday that all offseason programs have yet to be canceled. Any further extension of the executive mandate to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people could jeopardize the offseason schedules for all 32 teams.
However, the possibility of a shortened season was not discussed Tuesday when owners approved playoff expansion as outlined in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
While the timeline for the NBA, NHL and MLB are currently uncertain during the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL regular season is not scheduled to begin for five-plus months. For that reason, the league expects to start the 2020 season as scheduled with the Kansas City Chiefs opening Week 1 on Thursday, Sept. 10.
“That’s our expectation. Am I certain? I’m not certain I’ll be here tomorrow. But I’m planning on it,” Pash said Tuesday.
The NFL season may start on time but the draft will be remote
NFL vice president Troy Vincent said the league is investigating options in the event games are delayed. Vincent fielded multiple questions about playing in front of empty stadiums and said the plan is for a “full” and “normal” regular season.
Playing without fans is being weighed by the NBA, NHL and MLB.
More pressing is the 2020 NFL Draft. It i is being held as scheduled April 23-25 but not in Las Vegas, which was awarded the event and had planned for a live production including players being introduced over the water near the Bellagio fountains. Prospects were invited by Vincent to participate “live” and other guests, including college coaches, will be added to the studio broadcast.
The league is finalizing protocol for picks and the process of a remote draft. Pash said teams could be granted extra time between picks to ensure communication regarding trades can be made to and from all necessary parties.