Football fans, and fans of live sports in general, are holding out hope that the 2020 NFL season will kick off as scheduled in September, albeit with several changes to the fan experience because of COVID-19. There have been rumblings of players potentially opting out of the season and unresolved concerns about how the sport can be played in the midst of a pandemic that requires social distancing, but according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the league and its players are inching closer to common ground.
"Update on where things stand 18 days out," Rapoport tweeted on Friday. "Almost everything is done and agreed to except for number of preseason games and testing protocols. No fans will be at training camp, but teams can have up to two fan events at stadiums this preseason with strict protocols if allowed.
"Where fans are allowed at games, they will wear face coverings. Actual training camp schedule of practices can be tied to the preseason game questions, so not there yet. The economics are not yet finalized, either."
The elephant in the room is the economic side of all this. It's one thing to agree on how to safely play the game, it's another to agree on whether it's the owners or players (or both) who should pay the price for that safety. And as we've seen with baseball, it can get ugly real quick.
A deeper read into Rapoport's tweet raises some more red flags, too. He claims almost everything is agreed to, but the list of the things that aren't is pretty significant. Number of preseason games? Testing protocols? Training camp practice schedule? If those issues remain unresolved, then what, exactly, has been ironed out?
Maybe it's the pessimist that I've grown to become during this bizarre and scary time in our globe's history. But until the players and owners actually say "Game On!", it still anyone's guess if and when football will be played.
Here's where things stand with the 2020 NFL season and COVID-19 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago