Roger Goodell

Will there be NFL games played in 2020? Concerns over the recent historic spikes in positive COVID-19 tests across the country have again ratcheted up the difficulty of playing football in many eyes. Although the league has announced training camps are expected to start on time come July 28, commissioner Roger Goodell has made the decision to shorten this year's preseason slate by a total of two games -- eliminating the first and final game of the August schedule, per CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora.

The NFLPA did not sign off on that change, however, unmoved in their worry about player safety, instead offering up an alternative.

As opposed to only a two-game preseason, the NFLPA board of representatives unanimously voted to recommend that the league scrap the remaining two games altogether, per Dan Graziano of ESPN, and laid forth a proposal that would see the league go directly from training camp into the regular season slate of games in September. The proposal breaks down as follows and essentially covers the entire month of August, and intentionally leaves no room for even a single preseason game. Per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero:

  • 3 days: Medical/equipment
  • 21 days: Strength & conditioning
  • 10 days: Unpadded practice
  • 14 days: Practice (10 sessions max, 8 padded)
  • Begin Week 1 of the 2020 season.

The NFL is expected to consider the proposal, and included would be a scenario wherein group workouts would be smaller initially -- roughly 15 per and a maximum of 40 in unpadded practices -- using the month of August as a ramp-up to full inclusion, per Pelissero.

Additionally, the two sides are reportedly in discussions on a caveat to the 2020 season that would allow players to opt out due to health concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus, per Mark Maske of The Washington Post. This would mirror the opt-out installed by the NBA ahead of its reopening in Orlando, Florida, and presumably wouldn't penalize those who decide to sit out 2020. It doesn't appear anything is official on that front for the NFL just yet, as rules are still being negotiated should the two sides reach an agreement on the ability of players to potentially opt out, but given the current landscape with COVID-19, it stands to reason the NFL would at least consider it. 

Of course, it goes without saying this will further deepen concerns regarding competitive disadvantage in 2020

Players remain split on the decision, with some having been vocal about understanding the risks and still wanting to play despite them, while others mirror the sentiment of Malcolm Jenkins, who was recently very clear in his message to the contrary. Jenkins, one of the more prominent figures in the NFL who also serves as a vice president in the NFLPA, stated he wouldn't be comfortable returning until the COVID-19 threat was "eliminated", which kicked the door wide open for potential opt-out discussions.

When asked directly if he'd participate this season, if he could, former player and current NFLPA senior director of player affairs Don Davis preferred to leave the decision in the hands of each individual player, versus installing a sweeping edict.

"We have 1,900 members, and not all your 1,900 members are gonna be comfortable," he said, via TheMMQB's Albert Breer. "You all will have to make that decision, as a grown man."