The NFL is one of the few sports to have remained relatively unscathed by the coronavirus pandemic—a lucky result of timing and the fact that the season isn't scheduled to begin until September. But with the future of sporting still very much in the air—and debates over how long social distancing orders will remain in place—it's unclear whether the NFL will be able to proceed as planned even that many months out.
What's more, the NFL Draft begins this week, though in an entirely new, digital format. For some, the draft serves as a much-needed distraction from the pandemic. But for others, it's being read as unrealistic and even unfair to players who haven't been able to properly rehabilitate injuries because of restrictions caused by the coronavirus.
Asked whether he expects the NFL schedule to be impacted by the pandemic, Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr said "Yes, I do personally."
"I think the fact that we've seen the Olympics pushed back, the MBA is pessimistic about when they're going to re-open...the NFL should be realistic. The Olympics were right around the time that training camps started," he said.
For some, having the games take place without fans in stadiums is better then nothing. But even that—the possibility of teams playing in empty stadiums—has its complications. Among them, the games would still require a lot of staff, from the players to coaches, trainers, camera operators, and more.
"I think that we're going to need more widespread testing and it's unclear at this point what our ability and infrastructure's going to look like by the time September rolls around," said Orr.
According to the New York advertising company MediaRadar, estimates for losses from NFL postponements or a cancellation could add up to $6 billion.
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