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The NFL has maintained throughout the COVID-crisis that they plan on moving forward with the 2020 season as previously planned. When the NFL schedule was released, it included all pre-season games and the NFL opener starting as planned.
With reports that the virus is still not under control, the cracks around that plan are already showing. And the first cancellation will likely be the pre-season.
While you may see press releases that the NFLPA voted to cancel pre-season games, they may not have the authority to make that happen unilaterally. NFL Owners still want 2 pre-season game schedule, but they do currently agree that 4 is too many.
Ultimately, the pre-season debate may be short-lived and the canary in the coal mine, especially if cases of COVID-19 continue to grow across the country. The players are reportedly already wondering if they should even be returning to work when NFL camps open in a few weeks.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported: “The players I’m told are expressing a number of concerns on [the latest NFLPA conference] call. Not the least of which, is if there’s so much concern about this virus right now, why are we returning to work, period? And I was told that one of the medical experts said that is something you’re going to have to decide on an individual basis. Basically, are some players going to opt-out based on risk factors and just how they’re feeling about themselves and their family? So that is something to watch going forward.”
The net of this? At least two pre-season games, and likely the entire slate will be the first casualties of the NFL season. Canceling all four games seems to make sense and gives another full month assess the situation.
For now, the season is still planned to start on time and play the full slate of games. Fans in the stands are reportedly going to be up-to individual teams and their local rules, so it’s shaping up to be an eventful next few months.
With the Raiders moving to Vegas (a current hot spot) and opening a brand new stadium, this makes these decisions even more newsworthy for Raider Nation and we will continue to follow-up on all things Vegas Raiders.
All in all, we only care that there is football in 2020!