COVID-19 has been a thorn in the NFL’s side all season, but the league has forged forward with its 2020 campaign nonetheless.
The NFL has had to make a few adjustments schedule-wise since late September in response to various outbreaks. The Baltimore Ravens are the latest team to force the league’s hand, having placed 18 players on their reserve/COVID-19 list last week alone.
So with five weeks left in the regular season, here’s the big question: Can the league successfully complete things as scheduled?
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell answered that question Wednesday evening during halftime of the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game, which coincidentally had been moved three times due to COVID-19.
“We do think it’s safe to continue,” Goodell told NBC’s Mike Tirico, as seen on the broadcast. “Listen, there are challenges. We’re seeing virus spread and increase in our communities, so that’s a challenge for us. But we believe the protocols we’ve established are working.”
A playoff bubble, however, still doesn’t seem likely.
“We don’t see the bubble as most refer to it in one location. We feel strongly our protocols are working,” Goodell said. “We’re willing to adjust and adapt those protocols and take additional steps. But I don’t see us doing the bubble in the sense that the media focuses on it.”
The regular season currently is scheduled to conclude Sunday, Jan. 3. The league could implement a historic 18th week of play if need be, but clearly is attempting to do everything it can to avoid that scenario.
If the schedule stays in tact, the postseason will begin Saturday, Jan. 9. (That’s a big “if,” though.)