The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some uncertainty when it comes to the upcoming 2020 NFL season. While free agency, the NFL Draft and the regular-season schedule release occurred as planned, it still remains to be seen if we will be able to play football later this year. Even if all 32 clubs are allowed to play in the coming months, the question remains if fans will be allowed to attend with the current social-distancing guidelines.
Recently, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper appeared on CNBC to discuss the upcoming season as well as weigh in on the stock market, and he said that even if the NFL can't host stadiums full of cheering spectators, they don't necessarily have to be empty. Even with the current social-distancing rules, a number of fans should be allowed to attend games.
"You won't be having full stadiums, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fans in the stadium either," Tepper said. "If you're comfortable being in a closed airplane for a cross-country trip, 18 inches apart, maybe with two seats in between you and being 5 feet away from each other, you might be comfortable in an open-air stadium."
Tepper also said that he feels there should be enough coronavirus tests available by the fall to make sure that the players are safe on the field. He believes that there has to be a practical plan for some fans to attend games even if they have to wear face coverings or sit far apart from one another.
On Tuesday, the NFL informed teams that the league NFL teams are preparing their contingency plans, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, with several citing the Greenbrier in West Virginia -- which has hosted the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints in the past -- as an option.through the month of May. The virtual offseason was initially scheduled to run through May 15 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As it relates to training camp,
Some teams are already looking into how they can host fans this upcoming season if the pandemic refuses to yield. During a recent segment on ABC's "Good Morning America," Victor Oquendo reported that the Miami Dolphins were making game-day changes that would incorporate social distancing. Entrances would have social-distancing guidelines, fans would be spread out and there would even be a detailed exit strategy.
While maintaining the health of the players is something that needs to be considered first when it comes to the upcoming season, many believe that they will be able to play games in front of at least some fans later this year. According to Rapoport, everything is on the table.