The NFL has decided to cut the NFL preseason in half. The players have upped the ante by voting to drop the preseason altogether.
This is a sign that both the league bosses and the players understand the seriousness of COVID-19.
Nothing is set in stone. But how badly would teams miss these games?
The Virus vs. NFL Schedule
The pandemic itself is the overriding factor in the nation as well as the NFL season.
We have found that battling it has been like a game of whack-a-mole; the virus dies down in some regions and spikes in others so quickly it is hard to keep up.
Players from 10 NFL teams have reportedly tested positive for the virus, though no hard statistics are out there.
We know that Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott was among several Dallas and Houston Texans players to test positive at one time or the other. Players from San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Denver have tested positive, too.
More recently the states of Texas and Florida, where five NFL franchises reside, have reported spikes in cases.
Training camps are scheduled to start July 28, and players will then be in contact with each other on a regular bases. They should be well protected; the protocols call for testing as often as daily.
But the month of August will be crucial in determining whole NFL schedule.
Fauci on NFL Season
Back in May, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious disease, weighed in on how the NFL season could go on.
“As for the football season and what the fall is going to be: It will be entirely dependent on the effectiveness with which we as a society respond to the inevitable outbreak that will occur,” he told Peter King of NBC Sports.
The doctor called for “Enough testing so that when someone gets infected, you could immediately do contact tracing and isolation to prevent the infection from going to a couple of infections to hundreds of infections.”
The NFL season is set to begin on Sept. 10.
NFL Preseason Importance
How would a lack of an NFL preseason affect things?
Players and coaches obviously need as much preparation as possible going into the regular season.
Not getting those preseason reps leaves players rusty and out of synch. It also makes it tougher for coaches to trim rosters to regular season numbers.
Because of the strange circumstances of this season, I wouldn’t expect players to be in top form physically or mentally, anyway. But cutting down in practice games will make for downright ugly play in the first few weeks of the NFL season.
Cutting the NFL preseason also means a cut in revenue for a league already doing the math on losses through ticket sales and dealing with other virus-related problems.
2 Preseason Games Should Do
The virus has already taken a chunk out of every sport at every level. Now the NFL is having to deal more seriously with it, despite being given lead time because of the timing of the initial outbreak.
Still, there is no telling where we will be in August. That’s why I think cutting two games out of the NFL preseason is good, at least for now.
Nothing is guaranteed until we get grasp on this thing, so get used to more ups and downs as conditions change.