(Reuters) - Quarterback Tom Brady’s bid to bring the glory days back to Tampa Bay will be given a stiff test in Week One of the new NFL season when the Buccaneers travel to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints on Sept. 13.
The NFL, which outlined criteria on Wednesday for teams to begin reopening facilities amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, released the 256-game 2020 regular season schedule on Thursday.
Super Bowl champions Kansas City will host Houston on Sept. 10 to kick-off the new season. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes rallied the Chiefs past the Texans in the AFC divisional round playoffs last season.
Brady’s decision to leave New England, where he spent 20 seasons and won six Super Bowls, for the Bucs was the biggest story of the offseason. Tampa Bay’s only Super Bowl win came in the 2002 season and they last reached the playoffs in 2007.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised the league would follow safety protocols and heed medical advice, and was “prepared to address contingencies as they arise”.
“... we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities,” he said in a statement.
U.S. deaths from the virus topped 75,000 on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.
While other major sports leagues, including the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, have shut down due to COVID-19, the NFL has been able to buy time before making any major decisions as its season ended in early February.
The Los Angeles Rams will show off their new, multi-billion dollar stadium in Inglewood on the season’s first Sunday night game on Sept. 13 when they take on the Dallas Cowboys.
The Raiders, who left Oakland after 25 seasons for Las Vegas in the offseason, will unveil their new stadium on Sept. 21 when they battle the Saints on Monday Night Football.
The conference championships will be held on Jan. 24 and Super Bowl LV will take place in Tampa Bay on Feb. 7, according to the schedule.
Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford