According to Adam Schefter, President Donald Trump told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a conference call with sports’ commissioners on Saturday that he believes the NFL season should start on-time in September.
Trump added that he hopes to have fans in stadiums by August and September, per Schefter. However, Schefter says it’s “currently unclear” if medical experts feel this is a realistic timeline, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, NFL executive Jeff Pash said on a conference call that the league is planning to play a full season.
“Our planning, our expectation is fully directed at playing a full season and starting on schedule,” Pash said, per Ian Rapoport. “Just as we did in 2019. Am I certain? I’m not certain I’ll be here tomorrow, but I’m planning on it. That’s what we talked about.”
The NFL told reporters that they’ve been in regular contact with CDC along with public health officials, and the model they’re working off would allow for the season to start on time, per Dan Graziano. They are, however, aware that all of this subject to change if that model turns out to be inaccurate.
Shortly after that, the NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills clarified that this is simply their hope and it could come down to the availability of testing.
“I would say that’s everyone’s hope, that we are in a position to do that,” Sills said of the NFL being focused on playing a full 16-game regular season. “But the reality is none of us know those facts for certain right now. We hope and pray for the best and prepare for the worst, realizing that is one potential outcome that we will be back fully in business playing games as normal in front of fans on schedule. But it’s certainly not the only outcome.
“And I think what was implied there was to say we are not at a point where we are saying that is absolutely not going to happen so we should continue our planning and preparations as if we’re going to be able to do that. But obviously we’re going to have to evaluate that along the way. And follow what the recommendations are from public health officials and from our infectious disease experts and others.”
“As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport,” Sills added. “Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.”
We’ll have more regarding potential changes to the NFL as the news is available.