On Thursday, the NFL had a virtual conference with team owners regarding the future of the 2020 season among other things including workplace diversity and social justice programs.
But when it comes to football, the message to owners was clear: All systems are GO.
Per several NFL sources, the league notified teams that they should still be planning to move forward with a full training camp—beginning just over a month from now on July 28. As for the preseason, it does sound like the possibility of cutting a couple games remains on the table.
Additionally, league owners did vote to have NFL stadiums cover the first few rows of seats in stadiums to provide extra distance between the players and fans. That tarped-off will also be covered by ads for an additional income stream for the league.
This is the first step the league has taken to potentially limit crowds this season.
However, the NFL’s plan moving forward is still very ambitious, even by their own admittance. Here’s NFL medical director Dr. Allen Stills:
NFL Chief Doc Allen Sills: "We're setting up a very ambitious testing program.” He notes that "testing alone will not be sufficient to keep everyone healthy. It’s vitally important to keep social distances and use masks when possible."— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 25, 2020
As for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he still remains publicly optimistic that games will be played on time and in front of fans. Via a conference call Thursday, Goodell said the NFL is preparing to “get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners,” per Ian Rapoport.
With seven weeks until the preseason opener and 11 until the 2020 regular season debut, we’ll have to wait and see if the NFL’s ambition is truly realistic.