As the National Football League continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s now expected the league will not allow players to return to team facilities until the beginning of training camp.
Although most team facilities have already opened, only essential personnel and players receiving treatment or rehabbing an injury are currently allowed inside. Healthy players have been unable to return, and that is set to continue.
At this point, the NFL has not made any official decision and announcement about when training camp will begin.
However, we now know that all teams will be forced to hold training camp at their respective facilities, and that joint camp practices will not be allowed. Commissioner Roger Goodell stated as much in a memo sent to teams on Tuesday.
A significant number of teams are used to holding training camp away from home. For example, the Dallas Cowboys normally spend several weeks in Oxnard, Calif., each year.
Last year, 10 teams practiced away from their main team facilities.
Goodell said these precautionary measures, which he noted the NFLPA is strongly in favor of, are being taken to limit contact, exposure, and travel.
“These steps are being taken for the 2020 preseason to address the current conditions and are not expected to be in place in 2021,” Goodell said.
NFL Owners to Confront Likelihood of Lost Revenue
Many consider the NFL lucky to have avoided the initial wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused shutdowns and delays for the likes of the NBA, MLB, and NHL. However, the NFL is still likely to face challenges, including the loss of revenue, of its own.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly how the coronavirus pandemic will impact professional football, but everything from partially-filled stadiums to canceled games remains on the table.
That potential led one ownership source to say, “If revenues are going to be drastically reduced because of the pandemic, there’s going to have to be a negotiation about how to share the pain. And that’s not going to be an easy discussion.”
Such a statement immediately leads to visions of the situation facing Major League Baseball right now, as the league and players are at odds over a restart while owners try to get labor to “share the pain” financially.
For now, any disagreement about how revenue losses should be shared would impact the 2021 salary cap rather than threatening the start of the 2020 season. However, the NFL’s implication of taking future action could lead to immediate action by the players.
Since the NFL receives roughly one-third of its revenue from gameday spending and other ticket-related items, it’s in a slightly better position than the MLB for playing games without fans in attendance.
At this point, the NFLPA’s executive board is prioritizing issues revolving around a safe return to work rather than on potential discussions on revenue implications.
Two-Team Race in the AFC; NFC More Open
When the NFL season gets underway, the race for the AFC appears to be a simple one. Only two teams own odds better than +1000 to win the conference, both of which happen to also be the Super Bowl favorites.
To win the AFC, Kansas City owns odds of +300 while Baltimore owns odds of +330. To win the Super Bowl, the Chiefs own odds of +650 while the Ravens own odds of +700.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, New England is the next favorite to win the AFC with odds of +1000.
In the NFC, the race is set to be a much tighter one, as four teams own odds better than +1000 and eight teams own odds better than +1400.
For now, the 49ers are the favorite with odds of +460. On San Francisco’s heels are New Orleans (+650), Tampa Bay (+700), and Dallas (+850). Also eager to join the top contenders are the Eagles (+1000), Seahawks (+1000), Packers (+1300), and Vikings (+1300).