Even though the NFL season is still months away on the horizon, the league is discussing measures for contingency plans in case they are forced to delay the start of the season due to COVID-19.
Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Ben Fischer have reported that among those plans are the possibility to delay the original date of the Super Bowl by three weeks to February 28, to eliminate the Pro Bowl and bye weeks entirely, and to possibly kick the season off as late as October 15.
The NFL’s main priority at the moment is to play out a full 16-game schedule and to play the Super Bowl on a Sunday in February. Some measures detailed by Ourand and Fischer showcase some of the details of how the NFL plans to accomplish both of these scenarios while still delaying the season by as many as five weeks:
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.
This is just one of the reported contingency plans on the table, and nothing has been closed to being finalized or decided at this early stage.
The NFL schedule is set to be released no later than May 9, according to Ian Rapoport.