The Kansas City Chiefs — along with the rest of the league — are still waiting to learn exactly how the season will play out. While the final regular-season schedule is normally available to us around mid-April, the last word we had was that this year, the schedule will be released by May 9 — which is this coming Saturday.
On Monday morning, we got one tidbit about the upcoming schedule in a report from ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
NFL plans to release its preseason and regular-season schedule later this week, but one league source said Sunday that he doesn’t “think any international games (are) coming this year.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 4, 2020
The news that there might not be international games this season isn’t likely to bother American fans very much, as they require one team to exchange a home game for a one that is a home game in name only.
International fans, of course, have a different view.
But otherwise, the league appears to be going full steam ahead — as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote last week.
The league will release its 2020 schedule late next week without any major changes, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed — including a Sept. 10 opener, the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 and visions of fans in the stands.
“We plan to start on time,” McCarthy said.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the league will, in fact, start on time — or that there will be fans in the stands.
“The schedule will come out as normal, but we’re doing reasonable and responsible planning as we always do, inside of game operations,” league operations executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Based off of what we are learning from the medical community and how people are handling this domestically and abroad, we are being deliberate with reasonable and responsible planning about what can work in our environment and what we can incorporate to protect the health and safety of all involved.”
In other words, the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic could force the league to delay the opening of the season — or make other changes.
According to a report from The Sports Business Journal last week, the league is building a number of contingencies into the schedule — including starting as late as mid-October but still playing a full 16-game schedule and having the Super Bowl by the end of February. This would be done by eliminating bye weeks and the Pro Bowl.
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.
Meanwhile, team facilities remain closed — and according to Fowler’s report, will remain so until an even playing field is available.
The league is evaluating when players can reenter team facilities. The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to keep buildings closed until every state in which a team resides lifts its stay-at-home mandate. Teams are prepared to conduct offseason workouts and June minicamps virtually.
“One thing I’ve learned about what we are going through as a country is you can’t tell a week from now much less three months from now,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during a pre-draft interview on Good Morning America. “So, our job is to be ready. We will obviously be ready to make alternatives.”