NFL Notes: COVID-19, Week 18, Playoff Bubble



  • According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the NFL will hold a mandatory conference call for all owners, coaches and general managers where specific penalties for repeat violators of the COVID-19 protocols will be detailed. 
  • The NFL has already sent out a series of memos the first few weeks regarding violators of various protocols and has issued a number of fines for coaches not wearing masks or for teams violating facility protocols. Other punishments could include the loss of draft picks. 
  • La Canfora says this call will serve as the final warning and no more memos will be sent. It will outline a penalty chart of sorts to make expectations clear, per a league source: “It will be made very clear to all involved that moving forward from Week 5, this is the law. The hammer will fall.”
  • La Canfora adds that as repeat offenders the Raiders are very likely looking at the loss of a draft pick for HC Jon Gruden‘s fine for not wearing his mask on the sideline and the team’s fine for allowing a non-essential visitor into the locker room. 

Week 18

  • According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the NFL is looking at potentially adding a Week 18 to the regular season to better accommodate games that have to be postponed and rescheduled. 
  • However, a second source tells Maske there’s been “no serious discussion of Week 18 yet.” As of now, it appears to be seen as more of a contingency and not a prominent option by the NFL. 

Playoff Bubble

  • According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the NFL had not previously discussed the idea of doing bubbles for the playoffs too seriously but the events of this past week have them digging more into the idea. 
  • La Canfora notes previous discussions had centered more around the conference championship games and had been more limited. While the NFL’s competition committee liked the bubble concept, it had limited support within the league office and from the NFLPA. 
  • An NFLPA source told La Canfora the league hasn’t formally broached the subject of playoff bubbles recently, but it wouldn’t be shocking for it to come up depending on where the numbers trend.
  • La Canfora mentions the championship games are already considered league events instead of team events, so they could be moved to neutral, bubble locations with some relative ease. 
  • He adds many within the NFL office think building a contingency plan involving hub cities and bubbles for the divisional and/or wild-card rounds would also be the smart move. 
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