The NFL has so far dodged any major delays or pauses in its season due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, primarily because the height of the outbreak occurred when there was no football to be played. That doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods just yet though, with medical experts warning of a possible second wave that could hit during the fall. That notwithstanding, the current state of affairs has the league conducting a virtual offseason but also having recently given permission for all 32 clubs to reopen their facility doors — contingent upon them following the stringent COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the league, in addition to their local shelter-in-place laws.
While the facilities are still not allowed to welcome back coaches or players, the reopening is a step toward football being played come September, and one team owner is absolutely certain of that fact. Steve Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, appears 100 percent certain the NFL regular season will go on as planned — with one important caveat.
“I think there definitely will be a football season this year,” Ross said on CNBC, via The Sun-Sentinel. “The real question is, will there be fans in the stadium?”
Ross explains the primary plan is for the show to go on as normal, including permitting fans to attend in some capacity.
“Right now, today, we’re planning to have fans in the stadium,” he said. “But I think the NFL is looking at, and is very flexible, so that we will be able to start on time and bring that entertainment that is so needed for all of us in this country. I think the one thing we all miss is our sports. I don’t think a lot of people realize it until they no longer have it.
“Certainly the NFL, I think, will be ready to go. I know we’re all looking forward to it. I know I am. We’ve done a lot of things down in Miami here. We’re prepared, either way, and hopefully there will be fans in the stadium.”
There has been no formal announcement by the league regarding the season taking place, or not taking place, but it’s no secret that preparations have been toward the former. There are reportedly several contingencies in place that span from a traditional version that packs stadiums with fans, to one with limited fan capacity (the Pittsburgh Steelers alluding to this by selling only 50 percent of their available tickets), to one with no fans present; and then there are the worst-case scenarios of delayed football or none whatsoever.
For his part, and with several states — including Florida — already reopening and granting permission to professional sports teams to fire up again (sans fans, for now), Ross sees no scenario at present that would derail the NFL season. There is undoubtedly a list of other owners who agree with him but, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, the league’s front office is taking it one day at a time.