The NFL plans to release its 2020 schedule on Thursday, May 7. While the league plans to proceed with its usual regular season schedule starting in September, alternative options are being developed to deal with the current coronavirus pandemic.
A Monday article from the Sports Business Journal laid out the NFL’s plan to run a delayed regular season and postseason schedule if its 256-game slate cannot begin on time in September.
The contingency plans would include:
- A Super Bowl that takes on February 28.
- A slate with a regular season that begins as late as Thursday, October 15.
- A regular season with no bye weeks or Pro Bowl.
Also, there is a possibility the first two weeks of the regular season could be moved to the end of the regular season schedule to accommodate any necessary changes.
Of course, there is a precedent for the NFL not having bye weeks. The regular season did not feature a bye week until 1990. Meanwhile, the last time there was no bye week between the conference championship game and Super Bowl was during the 2001 season due to the 9/11 attacks, which pushed back a week of the regular season.
That season, the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams met in Super Bowl XXXVI – one of the great Super Bowls of all-time.
It appears the NFL does not have an interest in playing a shortened season.
Now, one other notable question remains – is the NFL willing to play in front of empty stadiums and if not, how will they proceed?