Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been an enormous level of uncertainty surrounding North American sports, especially as cases and hospitalizations continue to swell in certain parts of the country. It has already claimed much of the NFL’s offseason. It threatens to impact training camp as players are looking for more answers and clarity regarding the NFL’s policies and procedures to keep the players and their families safe as they prepare to report for the start of training camp this week.
One of the major questions has focused on the number of preseason games. The Dallas Cowboys were scheduled to play five preseason games in 2020, including the 2020 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH. The Cowboys have already lost three preseason games, and now the NFL and NFLPA are in discussions of what should happen with the final two.
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported this morning that the latest proposal from the NFL would have teams playing just one preseason game in 2020.
Under the NFL’s proposal, the one preseason game would be played in what normally is the third preseason week, the week of Aug. 27. That’d provide an extra week of preparation, though not the full 21 days of strength and conditioning players want.
The one preseason game would be played on August 27th, just two weeks before the start of the regular season. Per Pelissero’s report, the players would prefer three weeks of preparation before the beginning of the season.
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about reducing the number of preseason games, and this would be a drastic reduction. For most players on the roster, the preseason doesn’t add much. It’s much more critical for the players at the back end of the roster. The coaching staffs and scouting departments get more evaluation opportunities, but much of the 53-man roster is already decided, and what questions remain are answered in training camp.
Though rookies are scheduled to report tomorrow to camp and veterans later in the week, the two sides of the labor negotiations will continue to work out a plan to have a 2020 NFL season. While the players have questions, everyone is working toward the goal of playing this season.
As these negotiations play out, training camp and the preseason will continue to evolve and take shape. Even with looming questions about the process for reporting and COVID-19 testing, all signs continue to point to a season happening.