The start of the 2020 NFL season is still several months away, but you can be sure the league is preparing for all different kinds of scenarios that could impact when games can get underway.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many sports league seasons and tournaments to either pause or be canceled over the last few months. Fortunately, some leagues in other parts of the world are beginning to come back without fans in attendance, including this past weekend's resumption of the 2019-20 Bundesliga (German soccer league) campaign.
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The NFL released its schedule earlier this month and the regular season is slated to begin Thursday, Sept. 10. Of course, it's difficult to know what the situation surrounding COVID-19 will look like in late August and early September, and some parts of the United States have been hit harder than others by the virus.
During the latest episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, NFL Media's Judy Battista talked about how the league is moving forward at this point in the calendar.
"I think they're taking baby steps, right? They try to keep going. The whole goal is to try to open training camps on time because that would lead to opening the season on time," Battista said. "They keep progressing as much as they can.
"Obviously, they are constrained by the local stay-at-home rules all over the country. But getting staff in (to the team facilities) -- that starts today, some teams can get staff in. The next step is when can they get coaches in. They've said so far, the thinking is they will not allow coaches in until all the facilities are open. We don't know when that will be. Certainly yesterday, I thought, sounded like a positive development, Governors (Andrew) Cuomo and (Gavin) Newsom of New York and California, (respectively), both said they are ready for the return of pro sports in the next weeks. ..."
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With the situation involving COVID-19 being so different throughout the nation, it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, for each NFL team to play under the same circumstances. The league strives for competitive equity, but during a unique scenario like the one we're currently facing, leveling the playing field for all 32 teams is challenging.
"I certainly have been told by people in and around the league that at some point we all -- meaning teams, owners, league officials, fans, media -- we're all going to have to get comfortable with the idea it might not always be equal if you want to get a season this year," Battista said.
"In other words, there may be some teams who have to play with absolutely no fans, so no homefield advantage whatsoever. There may be some teams in other parts of the country that can have a lot of fans. There may be teams somewhere in the middle. That would be an inequity that I think everyone will have to live with."
Also in the new episode: Curran explains why he gave the Patriots an "F" for their offseason grade, as well as several other topics discussed with Battista.
You can check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.