For those of you who don’t know, I live in Woodside, Queens (NY). That’s less than a mile from Elmhurst Hospital, the current epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. This thing has pretty much consumed my brain and kept me from seriously sleeping for weeks. Thankfully, I have this site. So here’s what all this craziness could mean to the NFL season.
- The schedule release is delayed until May 9th. Normally the schedule release is one of my favorite days of the year, as it sets a lot of my travel schedule for the coming fall and winter. But there is a 0% chance the NFL will know what it’s looking at for this summer and fall by May 9th. (The peaks or apexes of the virus won’t be reached in several areas of the country until late May, early June.) It’ll be the latter by the time the league knows when the season will start and – most importantly for them – when it will finish. How can anyone make travel plans with any confidence? How can teams do any kind of serious prep?
- There’s no way the NFL season will begin without an off-season program. What that off-season program will look like is another conversation. Nobody in the league would bemoan the cancellation of the entire preseason. But without a several-week practice period, how are coaches expected to get teams ready for action? Says a league insider I often refer to as [REDACTED], “We can’t do anything with less than three weeks.”
- Like many of you, I have consumed more information about Covid-19 than a non-epidemiologist should. And I have yet to find a single doctor who believes the virus will NOT be coming back this fall/winter. (Dr. Fauci confirmed so much at a briefing this week.) What does that mean for the league? What will their contingency plans be? Are they really going to pile thousands upon thousands of people into tight buildings and just hope the virus stays away? We’re all hoping there are medical and testing advancements by this period. But that’s all this is: hope.
- NFL football is made for television. And television has made the NFL. But what a surreal experience it would be if the league decided to play games without fans. There is no more emotional sport on the planet. How would it effect the players to operate in silence? The game would lack a great deal of the energy we love.
- Who benefits from a truncated off-season program or shortened season? One would have to assume teams with continuity. Do you really wanna gamble on any of the new coaches? Do you really wanna gamble on a quarterback in a new system, outside of maybe Tom Brady in Tampa? Feels like it’ll be mid-season before any teams hits their stride. Teams with a least amount of turnovers from 2019 to 2020 will have sizable advantage.
- The futures bet I like right now: Buffalo Bills at 13-1 to win the AFC.
This sentiment is growing around the league. People are dying. The league doesn’t seem to notice.
— Mark Leibovich (@MarkLeibovich) April 1, 2020