There are less than four months to go until NFL training camp, five months until the preseason and six months until the 2020 regular season. But each day that the coronavirus continues to spread threatens those events from taking place at all.
As we approach some important dates for teams to start getting together, one NFL owner made a prediction for how the 2020 season will play out. Speaking to NBC Sports, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects that 2020 NFL games could be played in empty stadiums.
Blank said that the NFL would likely make a litany of changes to let the games go on while limiting coronavirus exposure. Changes might include shorter training camps, fewer preseason games, and daily testing.
But the most important thing would be no fans in attendance.
“If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that’s really all it is, I would say yes. Only because it’s so far away from where we are today. I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature. No fan attendance. Things like that.
“We may have fewer preseason games, which probably wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I think by September, my hope is by the time the regular season starts, that we’ll be able to bring people together in some form or fashion in a safe manner and play.”
The NFL isn’t the only league pondering the idea of playing games in front of empty stands.
Over in England, the Premier League are attempting to play finish their suspended season. One proposal suggests playing their final 92 games this summer in one region of the midlands with no fans in attendance.
Exclusive – Premier League plans have developed into clubs staying in quarantined World Cup-style bases and playing all games in midlands June/July
– all 92 remaining games would be broadcast in "TV mega event"
– govt backinghttps://t.co/O9OZCDqKO9
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 29, 2020
If the Premier League or any other major sports league can finish a season without fans, then the NFL could easily find a way to prepare the 2020 season in a similar way.
Should the NFL start making plans to conduct the 2020 season without fans in attendance?