The NFL is forming contingency plans in case its schedule of games needs to be altered, Sports Business Daily reported Monday, including season openers more than a month later than expected and pushing back the Super Bowl by as much as three weeks.
Just days after the league hosted its first-ever virtual draft, with coaches, team representatives and players all at home, the NFL is trying to be proactive when it comes to schedule changes that might be needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the report, the opening slate of regular-season games could be moved all the way back to Thursday, Oct. 15, which is currently set as the start to Week 6. The Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., could be moved from Feb. 7 all the way back to Feb. 28.
“We’ve been in constant communication with the NFL and we’re totally focused on Feb. 7, 2021,” Tampa Bay Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins told Sports Business Daily.
Also under consideration is the elimination of the bye week for each team, skipping the Pro Bowl and the elimination of the extra week between the NFC and AFC championship games.
According to the report, all Sundays in February are under consideration for Super Bowl LV in order to adapt to whatever schedule changes are needed.
Two early-season slates of games could be moved to back end of the season, per the report. Another week reportedly could feature matchups only of teams with the same bye week, so if bye weeks are eliminated those contests could be made up with minimal disruption.
The NFL schedule is expected to be released on May 9, though Sports Business Daily reported that it likely will come with caveats about potential changes.
“One thing I’ve learned about what we are going through as a country is you can’t tell a week from now much less three months from now,” commissioner Roger Goodell said last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “So, our job is to be ready. We will obviously be ready to make alternatives.”
—Field Level Media