The Coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the sports landscape, resulting in cancellations or suspensions of nearly all major sports leagues all across the globe. It has yet to seriously affect the NFL, however, as free agency has proceeded as planned along with reports that the NFL Draft is reportedly still on for April 23.
One would figure that the NFL’s September 10 regular season start date is far enough away to where the league can play out its 2020 season unscathed by the rampant ubiquity of Covid-19. However, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank speculates that the virus will impact the NFL even though the season is nowhere on the horizon.
“I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature,” Blank said to Peter King. “No fan attendance. Things like that.”
UPDATE: We should note here that Blank’s comments about fan attendance were directly related to training camp, not games. An appreciative tip of the cap to Brett Jewkes, senior VP and chief communications officer for the AMB Group, for clearing that up.
For clarity, he was talking about fan attendance at Training Camp.— Brett Jewkes (@BJewkes) March 30, 2020
Blank did say it wasn’t yet clear what would happen during the season, adding “...your point about the stadiums, with 50,000 to 70,000 people, whatever it may be. I think it’s just too early to tell. Of course we have to be able to provide a safe environment for fans. That’s the most critical thing.”
Blank did offer some optimism in regard to a full season being played, however.
“If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that’s really all it is, I would say yes (to a 16-game season),” Blank said. “Only because it’s so far away from where we are today.”
Only time will tell what the impact of the Coronavirus will be on the National Football League — we most likely won’t have any idea until the summer months.
If Blank’s hunch is correct, we may be in this for the long haul.