The NFL preseason will be reduced by one game once the 2021 collective bargaining agreement kicks in, but we might see a reduction much sooner.
NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday that the NFL and the NFLPA are discussing cutting the preseason in half leading into the 2020 season.
With so much COVID-19 uncertainty ahead in the summer and fall, cutting down the preseason makes a lot of sense. As Pelissero said, it would allow for a longer “ramp up” period for players, which they’ll likely need after months of virtual and socially distanced workouts, and give the NFL more time to solidify their protocols for the real games.
It’ll also help the oncoming logistical headache for most teams as they try to operate training camps under new NFL-mandated safety protocols. Designated entrances, temperature checks, routine disinfecting, one-way hallways, and socially distant locker rooms are just some of the new precautions teams must have in place. With up to 90 players allowed on preseason rosters, teams may need that longer ramp-up time to make safety improvements on the fly, and players may need it to get used to the new protocols.
There aren’t a lot of people who will complain about losing two preseason games, at least judging by the replies to Pelissero’s tweet, but changes like this are worth watching as the sports world attempts to return from the COVID-19 shutdown. The NFL has had to adjust the draft and other offseason activities to accommodate stay-at-home orders and social distancing, but their regular season has yet to be affected. With a possible second wave of COVID-19 infections looming this fall, a shortened preseason might not be the last change we see.
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