How the 2020 NFL Season could come together

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CGI_Ram

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Might as well start a thread on this topic (the season). Articles are popping up and speculate how the 2020 NFL season could be played.

Here is one on MLB.

Report: MLB, MLBPA discussed starting season with all teams in Arizona

As sports leagues try to find a pathway forward to resume their operations about the novel coronavirus pandemic, options that once would have seen absurd are now being legitimately discussed.

According to Ron Blum of the Associated Press, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association discussed the idea of having all 30 teams begin play in Arizona as part of a modified season scheduled during a Monday call between the two sides.

The Phoenix area is home to spring training for 15 different teams with 10 spring training sites along with Chase Field, the home field for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the regular season. All 11 stadiums are located within approximately 50 miles of each other with Hohokam Park in Mesa and Surprise Stadium in Surprise being the two stadium separated by the greatest distance. The season would begin without fans in the stands under such a concept.

But the idea appears to be just that for the time being. The logistics of getting 30 MLB teams to the same metropolitan area, finding accommodations for the entire operation of each team and scheduling out 15 games a day in a locale with just 11 potentially viable stadiums all present significant challenges to overcome. Chase Field itself with a retractable roof could host at least two games a day, in theory. However, the other 10 parks are all fully outdoor and could prove challenging if games were to continue into the Arizona summer where temperatures can easily soar over 100 degrees.

“We’d all love to find a way to play, provided we could do safely, and that would be the priority,” Texas Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said.

There is a real possibility the prevalence of the virus could impede any practical execution of the idea. The MLBPA would eventually need to decide if they’d be OK with the possible risks associated with beginning in such a way as well. Baseball’s season was supposed to start March 26 and will not begin until at least the second half of May as it is.

The NFL may have even more challenges to overcome should they attempt to begin their seasons this fall in a similar fashion. The very nature of the sport requires close contact to begin with and there isn’t an obvious satellite site for the entire league to descend upon to begin their seasons.

But it’s clear the NFL is going to continue to push forward as though the season will begin on schedule for as long as possible.
 
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CGI_Ram

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From yesterday;


I believe that the NFL will do everything in its power to have football this year, even if it happens in empty stadiums or with a much smaller crowd than usual. I also believe that high school and college football will not happen, which will give the NFL a way to make back some of its lost ticket revenue by televising games on Friday nights and throughout the day on Saturday, every week, if the NFL chooses to do that.

Consider this one for a moment. Instead of having five broadcast windows per week, the NFL could end up with nine: Thursday night, Friday night, three on Saturday, three on Sunday, and Monday night.

That could nearly double the TV revenue for 2020, and the ratings would skyrocket, since there would be no other football to watch. And that makes the stakes even higher for the NFL to find a way to play its games, in empty stadiums or in practice facilities or on the island where Fyre Fest was supposed to happen.

Sure, the league will at some point claim that it’s playing its games in the fulfillment of some sort of national duty. And that’s true. The deeper reality, however, is that many billions of dollars will be on the line.


 

CGI_Ram

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REPORT: NFL PLAYER SALARIES IN JEOPARDY DUE TO COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has largely brought professional sports to a halt with the NBA and MLB suspending their seasons. As the NFL weighs the potential impact the ongoing crisis will have on its upcoming season, the salaries for NFL players could hang in the balance.

An NFL executive told Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline that if the 2020 season is canceled, players will not be paid by their teams this year. While organizations would reportedly try and give their players some compensation, perhaps awarded for offseason workouts or keeping in shape, they will not be paid under their contracts.

As of now, the league still intends for there to be a full 16-game season that will start in September However, team executives and coaches are feeling increasingly skeptical that the NFL season will start on time.

The NFL’s chief medical officer said the season wouldn’t start until widespread testing is available for everyone. While the NBA is looking into rapid COVID-19 tests, which the NFL would also likely need, there still remains a shortage of test kits.

League officials have already discussed playing games without fans this season. It would be a step to ensure the safety of many, limiting their potential exposure to COVID-19. But players and team personnel could still be at risk of getting sick with the league then needing to suspend operations.

While MLB reached agreement on a deal to pay its players during the suspended season and NBA players are still being paid, the same won’t be said if the NFL experiences its own shutdown. It remains likely that NFL games will be played this year, which would ensure that players get paid, but the worst-case scenario just became even more concerning for players.
 

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Opinion: Virtual offseason 'workouts' might be key to NFL success in 2020

GREEN BAY, Wis. — In an NFL offseason where the only semblance of normalcy was a frenzied first week of free agency, teams have accepted that they won’t come together as a group until at least July or August.

The Green Bay Packers were scheduled to gather for the first time on April 20 to begin Phase I of the offseason conditioning program. But like everyone else, that event has been deleted from their calendars.

This time of year has less to do with getting players in shape as it does with updating the systems the coaching staff had in place at the end of last year and fostering player growth within them. The nine-week course coach Matt LaFleur had in place was to end with a three-day mandatory minicamp in June.

Considering the country-wide stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the growth of the deadly coronavirus, the plan LaFleur had in store for his team will have to be implemented in a different way.

The NFL and the Players Association are working on a way in which teams could engage with players in a different way while still allowing players to collect their offseason workout bonuses. It should be revealed soon, and a few agents who have been in contact with the union are expecting creative solutions.

“I have a sense they are coming up with a virtual offseason plan where the players will still be working with the coaches the best they can,” one agent of a Packers player said. “If they set something up like that, I believe the players will still be paid.

“It is in everyone’s best interest to monitor the players' workouts and have them work with coaches remotely.”

The bonuses are a big deal.

The Packers like to tie considerable money into them with their veteran players, figuring most would prefer to work with their personal trainers in a warmer climate if given the choice. So, they offer hundreds of thousands of dollars as an enticement to attend.

All told, the Packers have about $10 million invested in workout bonuses this year.

The highest, $750,000, belongs to Za’Darius Smith. Preston Smith has the next highest at $650,000. Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari and Adrian Amos are set to receive $500,000. Newcomers Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner have $250,000 bonuses.

The lowest bonuses are $30,000 for Jace Sternberger, $25,000 for Oren Burks and $15,000 for Montravius Adams.

Any player who participates in the offseason program automatically receives $235 a day provided they complete three out of the four scheduled workouts in a given week. If you’re a street free agent who received no bonus money and don’t get paid unless you make the 53-man roster, there’s an opportunity to make nearly $1,000 a week.

“The NFLPA did say there is precedent from the 2011 lockout where players were still paid their workout bonuses,” another agent of a Packers player said. “But there’s no guarantee.

“My gut tells me they will pay them. I can’t imagine a team justifying a scenario not to pay them, especially considering teams aren’t missing out on any revenue right now. Maybe if it’s a player who has a history of not attending the offseason, I could see a team not wanting to pay. But the vast majority of players attend and earn the money.”

During an unprecedented growth in video conferencing that has emerged amidst the coronavirus pandemic, teams are going to have to get creative with their offseason programs.

The NFL already plans to allow general managers to make picks from their homes during the draft, so it’s possible to connect players with coaches the same way Brian Gutekunst will be in constant contact with his scouts throughout the three days of the draft.

According to the rules of offseason workouts, players can’t be held at the facility for more than four hours a day during the first two phases of the program and six hours during OTAs and minicamp. So, coaches will have limited time to set up video conferences in which they can go through the playbook and show players game and practice tape.

Creativity and efficiency will be of great importance.

The coaches who can come up with teaching methods that work online will be ahead of the curve. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for some of them to connect with professors and teaching assistants at nearby colleges for some pointers.

“I think teams are priming to do a lot of the OTA process virtually,” said a third agent of a Packers player. “The NFLPA sent a recent memo to players about this. Coaches and front offices will want to work with players to virtually do activities typically allowed during OTAs.”

The on-field work during Phase One is limited to work with the strength and conditioning staff. No coaches are allowed on the field and no footballs can be used except for quarterbacks throwing to uncovered receivers and specialists working on the kicking game.

It’s not hard to imagine strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Gizzi conducting video stretching or yoga classes from his home workout studio. Or going through kettle ball or band workouts.

It gets a little trickier with weight lifting because not every player has a home gym. Many of the players normally train in a gym with sophisticated equipment. Some have been able to do outdoor workouts with weights they own or, in the case of nose tackle Kenny Clark, sit in a giant tire and pull a rope tied to a bus.

According to the NFLPA memo, teams can send equipment to the players. But there is a ceiling on how much a team can spend, thereby limiting the advantage one team might have over another.

Where things will get interesting is Phase Two and Phase Three, where football-type activities are allowed. Included are 10 days of OTAs where non-contact team drills are allowed. It is during these periods that the coaches can see how well players are performing as a group and how well the team is carrying out a specific play.

How do you get 90 guys in 90 different places to act as though they’re playing together? You can bet that there are coaches dreaming up ways to sync movements and get players to believe they’re on the field together.

The best any coach can hope for is that when players do report to training camp they are in good physical shape, have learned something from all the virtual lessons they’ve taken and are healthy.

Assuming there is going to be a 2020 season, this will be the most difficult exercise in preparation that any player or coach has experienced. The team that gets the most out of its video conferences over the next few months might be the one holding the Lombardi Trophy.
 

Angry Ram

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There will be a full NFL season, just without full stadiums I bet.

I wonder if they'll start out in phases...September and October, no fans. November and December, season ticket holders and limited upper and nosebleeds. Playoffs = 50-75% full.
 

rams1fan

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I just do not see mass congregations of people happening this year. Flu season return in the fall. If there is an NFL season its with empty stadiums.
 

CGI_Ram

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NFL, NFLPA agree to virtual offseason program

The NFL and the players’ union have agreed to a deal that would permit virtual offseason programs to begin on April 20.

No players will be at team facilities until public health policies make that feasible, and the league and the union have agreed that all 32 teams have to abide by the same rules. That means if some states with NFL teams ease up on social distancing while other states have strict stay-home orders in place, all 32 teams would have to stay home.

But starting next week, teams and players can communicate virtually. Teams will also be allowed to send workout equipment to players’ homes and have strength and conditioning coaches guide players through workouts using video chat technology.

Whether training camps open on time, no one knows right now. But the NFL is trying to establish something resembling a normal offseason schedule, at a time when everything in the NFL and around the world is outside the norm.
 

Mojo Ram

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But the idea appears to be just that for the time being. The logistics of getting 30 MLB teams to the same metropolitan area
Stay away from here please. The last thing the Phoenix metro area needs is MORE people.

Thanks.
 

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NFL has discussed playing in empty or half-full stadiums, as calls grow for sports’ return

While still publicly committed to kicking off its 2020 season in September to packed stadiums, the NFL has been contemplating contingencies that include a potentially shortened schedule, holding games in empty or partially filled stadiums, and moving or rescheduling games if necessary, three people familiar with the league’s planning said Wednesday.

That revelation came on the same day the notion of the cautious return of professional sports gained a significant scientific endorsement — to go along with the more emphatic one already coming from the White House. And it underscored how the nation’s sports leagues, including the NFL, can still see only the outline of a path forward as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, with nobody ready to say when or how games can resume.

“I don’t know if it’ll be a one-third-filled stadium, a half-filled stadium or whatever,” said one of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details of the league’s planning had not been made public. “The NFL is planning for everything from playing without fans to playing in full stadiums. We know there will be a push from the [federal] government to open things up.”

Wednesday saw the nation’s top infectious disease scientist give a public — but highly contingent — blessing to the return of sports. In an interview on Snapchat recorded the day before, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, outlined a plan that could allow the NBA, NHL and MLB to resume play this summer. It would involve playing in empty stadiums, with players and other essential personnel kept in a protective “bubble” involving frequent testing and self-isolation.

“There’s a way of doing that,” said Fauci, who has become the most well-known face of the U.S. scientific community’s battle against the virus. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [players and other personnel] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well-surveilled . . . have them tested like every week . . . and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family. And just let them play the season out. . . . If you could get on television, Major League Baseball, to start July 4 [even if] nobody comes to the stadium — you just, you do it.”

Fauci’s comments were released on the same day President Trump — who on several occasions has made clear his preference for sports to return as soon as possible — held a second conference call in two weeks with the commissioners of the country’s major sports leagues. Several team owners, including Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, were expected to be on the call as well.

“We want to get our country open again," the president said a news conference Wednesday. "We want to have our sports leagues open. You want to watch sports. It’s important. We miss sports.”

Until Wednesday’s revelations, the NFL had appeared content to stick to its public stance of an undisturbed 2020 season while quietly considering other scenarios and allowing the other leagues — with seasons currently on hiatus — to show the way forward. But now even the NFL’s deliberations on readying for the possibility of a disruption to its schedule are coming into view.

The person familiar with the NFL’s planning made the point that “the other leagues have to go first,” referring to MLB, the NBA and the NHL. The league could have to deal with ongoing lockdowns or stay-at-home orders in some states — with some local government officials already warning that a too-soon return of sports could have catastrophic ramifications.

Another person with knowledge of the deliberations said the NFL is “obviously going to be looking at what the other leagues do” but said the contingency-planning so far has taken place at the league level without progressing to the decision-making stage involving the owners of the 32 teams. That person said it might eventually become necessary to consider moving games or adjusting the schedule if games cannot be played in certain cities at certain points during the season.

“I would assume that’s something you’re going to have to look at,” that person said. “There’s no way of knowing which states will be open and which won’t. There’s no question we’re going to have to think it through and put different scenarios to the owners.”

But the NFL hopes, the first person said, that widespread testing for the virus will be available by the fall for players and perhaps fans, and suspects that public health advisories will be issued that will, for example, urge older and other at-risk fans to remain at home.

The NFL’s schedule for the 2020 regular season is expected to be released around May 9 and will account for the possibility of games being lost by a delayed start.

“The schedule is being done in such a way that builds in that flexibility,” the person said.

The NFL declined to comment Wednesday on specific contingency plans but said in a written statement:

“As we have said, we are committed to protecting the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and communities. We look forward to the 2020 NFL season, and our guidelines and decisions will be guided by the latest advice from medical and public health officials, as well as current and future government regulations. We will continue to plan for the season and will be prepared to adjust as necessary, just as we have done with free agency, the draft, and now the offseason program.”

Unlike the NFL, the other major U.S. leagues were already in various stages of exploring their most feasible paths to resumption, with all of it predicated upon continued advancements in testing for the coronavirus and in the fight against its spread.

MLB, which was in the middle of spring training and two weeks shy of its Opening Day when play was halted, has discussed a plan to stage games in the Phoenix area, using the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field and spring training complexes. On Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) gave his approval to the plan, as long as circumstances allow it.

“From our perspective, we don’t have a plan — we have lots of ideas,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told Fox Business on Tuesday. “What ideas come to fruition depends on what the restrictions [regarding travel and mass gatherings] are, what the public health situation is. But we are intent on the idea of making baseball a part of the economic recovery and sort of a milestone on the return to normalcy.”

The NBA, which was roughly 65 games into its 82-game season when play stopped, has explored a similar plan using multiple arenas and practice facilities in Las Vegas. The NBA was scheduled to have its pre-draft combine and lottery drawing in May, its draft in June, its free agency period beginning July 1 and its Las Vegas Summer League in mid-July. All of those events are now up in the air pending the league’s decision to resume or cancel the 2019-20 season.

Any efforts to restart sports leagues would require a degree of buy-in from players — especially those with families — who by necessity would have to live in strict isolation, traveling only from their hotels to the stadiums or arenas and submitting to frequent testing. Allowing immediate family members into the bubble would greatly increase the number of people to account for and the number of regular tests required.

Three-time American League MVP Mike Trout, whose wife is due to give birth this summer, raised some of those issues in an interview Wednesday with NBC Sports Network.

“I obviously want to play as fast as we can,” Trout said. “But [being self-isolated] would be difficult for some guys. What are you going to do with family members? My wife is pregnant. What am I going to do if she goes into labor. Am I going to have to go into quarantine for two weeks after I come back? Because obviously I can’t miss the birth of our first child.

“So there’s a lot of red flags, a lot of questions. Obviously we’d have to agree as players. But I think the mentality is, we want to get back as soon as we can. But obviously it’s got to be realistic. We can’t just be sitting in a hotel room, just going from the field to the hotel room and not being able to do anything. I think that’s pretty crazy.”
 

den-the-coach

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Sorry Gentlemen IMO, the only live sports this year will be Golf without the crowd. No contact, constantly 6 feet apart and very possible no caddies.
 

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How the NFL schedule can account for a potentially shortened season

The league will structure the slate in a way that can easily be adjusted to account for a condensed season, according to Maske. Though he doesn't go into detail about how the NFL plans to accomplish that, Maske reports "it should be fairly obvious" when the schedule is released.

The most obvious solution to this problem is for the NFL to back-load the schedule with the most important contests so an entire month - or more - can be trimmed off the start of the campaign with minimal effects to the league's competitive balance.

Here are some ways that could be accomplished:

Divisional games pushed back
Typically, the first and last months of the season are filled with divisional battles. These are the most important contests, as they go the furthest in determining division champions and playoff participants. Therefore, the NFL can least afford to lose them to a shortened schedule. Surely, it would also prefer fans to be allowed back in the stands by the time these crucial, familiar encounters take place.

Non-conference games come first
The least significant games when it comes to playoff tiebreakers are the non-conference ones, so expect the schedule to feature plenty of those early. While they're often the most intriguing (each AFC and NFC club square off only once every four years), they're also the most expendable.

No long road trips
Teams often play multiple games in a row at home or on the road, and then vice versa, but that will be a risky proposition in 2020. The league will want every club to play an equal number of games on home soil and in enemy territory, so road trips or homestands that extend beyond one game don't make sense.

Early bye weeks
Nobody really enjoys a bye in Week 4, but the NFL won't have time to let teams rest in Week 12 during a condensed season. The earlier the league gets the bye weeks out of the way, the greater a chance it has of making sure every team plays the same number of games. As a result, we may see more squads than usual receive byes in Weeks 4 through 8.
 

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How NFL is set, if needed, to shake up its schedule

A Super Bowl that kicks off on Feb. 28.

A regular season that starts as late as Thursday, Oct. 15.

An NFL season with no bye weeks or Pro Bowl.

These are all contingencies that the NFL has considered as the league moves forward with its plans to hold a full regular season.

The league’s executives are trying to put themselves in the best position to fit in a full season, or at least a nearly full season, even if there are delays.

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. (The 17-game regular season agreed to in the new CBA goes into effect with the 2021 season.)

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.

These contingency-laden plans also include cutting the weekend between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, where the Pro Bowl is typically played, to allow another week to be lost to delays. Under such a plan, the Pro Bowl would not be played.

Specific conversations have occurred with Tampa hosts about delaying the Super Bowl by one week to Feb. 14, but a source said the last two weeks of February are in play as well.

Sources caution that none of the plans are final, and nothing has been ruled out. All parties are aware that the season is still subject to major variables around the spread of the coronavirus by late summer, local regulations and medical progress against the disease.

But the NFL’s chief scheduler, Howard Katz, and the NFL’s broadcasters are working with two overriding goals: Do what they can to preserve the possibility of playing a full 16-game slate, and also keep the Super Bowl in February.

By setting up the schedule now with those potential changes in mind, such as eliminating the Pro Bowl and getting assurances that the Super Bowl can be moved, the league could start as late as Oct. 15 — what would typically be Week 6 — and play a 16-game season that ends in February.

Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins declined to comment on the possibility of a Super Bowl shift. “We’ve been in constant communication with the NFL and we’re totally focused on Feb. 7, 2021,” he said.

The NFL has told network executives to expect the schedule to be released as early as May 7 — two days before the May 9 date that the NFL originally had circled.

Even though Brian Rolapp, NFL executive vice president of media, said on March 30 that the league would announce a schedule by May 9, internal debate is still roiling about whether the league should even announce anything.

Sales staffs at teams, leagues and broadcasters are agitating for a tangible schedule, desperate for any offering to give ticket buyers, sponsors and advertisers. Some high-level strategists, though, are questioning the wisdom of releasing a schedule with so many unknowns.

They worry that a schedule release will be interpreted as a challenge to powerful politicians, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has been pessimistic about resuming major sporting activities this year.

For those reasons, insiders said, the schedule will be released with an emphasis on the contingencies. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said on April 17, “We continue to plan for the season as scheduled, including the Super Bowl, and will be prepared to adjust as necessary.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell later addressed the issue on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”.

“One thing I’ve learned about what we are going through as a country is you can’t tell a week from now much less three months from now,” Goodell said. “So, our job is to be ready. We will obviously be ready to make alternatives.”
 

Rams43

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I’m pretty damned optimistic about seeing a regular season, tbh.

i think history will reveal this Covid hysteria to be a colossal overreaction by ‘health experts’ and government.

As evidence comes in that the mortality rates are actually in line with normal flu rates, the hysteria will subside and we will see a return to normalcy. That would include an NFL season, of course.

Said mortality rate stats have been coming in for several weeks, btw.
 
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NFL weighing Saturday games if college football doesn’t resume in fall

Saturdays could be for the NFL this fall, if college football doesn’t play, The Post has learned.

With the NFL expected to release its schedule soon, its officials have discussed giving the league some flexibility to move games to Saturdays this fall if college football postpones its entire season, according to sources.

The NFL has had preliminary discussions with its broadcast partners about the idea. An NFL spokesman declined comment.

While the majority of the week’s schedule would remain on Sundays, along with the primetime Monday and Thursday slates, some stand-alone games could be reset for Saturdays.

The NFL will only consider the move if there is no college football. It is still unclear if college football will be played this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The college game has more uncontrollable variables than the NFL starting with the fact that the players aren’t true professionals. If students aren’t on campus in the fall, it is hard to see how football players could be asked to compete. Crowd attendance is also more important for the majority of college programs’ bottom lines than it is to the NFL.

While the NFL is much better positioned to deal with the pandemic as a professional league, it is still trying to figure out how it would put on its games. That is NFL executives’ first concern.

But the Saturday plan makes a lot of sense as it would create an open TV window for the NFL. The NFL already schedules Saturday games after the college regular season concludes in December.

The NFL could go to more extremes if Saturday is freed up for its whole season. It could have a triple-header with games at 1 p.m., 4:30 and 8, or just have one Saturday game of the week.

The whole idea is in its infancy as there are so many unpredictable factors the NFL has to determine.

If college suspends play in the fall, there may be an open path for the NFL to figure out Saturdays. For example, if the NFL plays its season without fans in the stadiums, then the idea of inconveniencing attendees by shifting games from Sunday to Saturday would be a non-factor.

The rest between games for players would only be shifted by one day, though,the league would have to make sure it doesn’t have issues with the Thursday and Monday short weeks.

By the record numbers for the NFL draft telecasts, there will be a hunger for football when it is played again. If Saturdays are open, the NFL could fill the void and it likely could charge its partners, like NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN, more to broadcast these games. The networks would have the available slots open with college not playing.

It is an interesting idea that won’t be resolved when the schedule is announced by May 9, but the NFL likely will give itself some flexibility.
 

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View: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2891610-joe-buck-says-fox-sports-may-pump-crowd-noise-use-virtual-fans-for-nfl-games

Joe Buck Says Fox Sports May Pump Crowd Noise, Use Virtual Fans for NFL Games

Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck revealed on SiriusXM's Andy Cohen Live (h/t John Ourand of Sports Business Journal) his network is planning on pumping in crowd noise and putting virtual fans in the stands during broadcasts of NFL games in the 2020 season.

"It's pretty much a done deal," he said. "I think whoever is going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on what just happened on the field. So it's real important."

Buck's comments come under the assumption there will be no fans in the stadiums come September when the season starts.

It is, frankly, a fair assumption given the remaining uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and the sports world at large. While the NFL had the luxury of time that leagues such as the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS did not when social distancing measures went into place in March, there will likely still be a significant element of risk to packing tens of thousands of people in the stands in the fall.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the director of the National Institutes for Health, underscored the level of uncertainty when he told Peter King of Football Morning in America it is "feasible" the NFL could play to empty stadiums or perhaps with limited attendance:

"I think it's feasible that negative testing players could play to an empty stadium. Is it guaranteed? No way ... There will be virus out there and you will know your players are negative at the time they step onto the field. You're not endangering ... Also, if the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart. I mean, that's something that is again feasible depending on the level of infection."

Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports offered a "conservative estimate" that holding games without fans during the 2020 season could cost approximately $70 million in gate receipts per team alone, and that is not accounting for concession sales and parking.
 

flv

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What no double-headers?