Raiders owner Mark Davis has officially gone rogue. Back in May, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo where he asked each of the league's 32 owners not to comment or speculate on how the 2020 season might play out. Apparently, Davis either didn't get that memo or he decided to ignore it because the Raiders owner offered some interesting speculation about how the year might play out. During an interview with ESPN.com, Davis revealed that he thinks there's still a possibility that the 2020 season could be completely canceled, which is an option the league hasn't ever publicly mentioned.
According to Davis, the NFL basically has three options for the upcoming season. Via ESPN, here are those options:
1. Go on as planned, with teams reporting for training camp over the next week, and see what happens.
2. Delay the start of the season until November and go to a 12-game season, canceling each team's four interconference games (AFC vs. NFC).
3. Cancel the 2020 season entirely.
Obviously, it's all going to come down to how whether or not NFL players can avoid coronavirus, which is why Davis doesn't sound completely convinced that a season is going to happen.
"I don't even know if it's safe to play. 'Uncertainty' is the word," Davis said. "Everything is up in the air with the virus and how it will affect our league and season."
One thing that's not clear is if Davis was sharing his own personal opinion or if the three options were an informed opinion based on conversations he's had with the NFL and the league's other owners (The NFL has had several teleconferences with the owners this season to try and figure out the logistics to the season). If Davis' opinion is based on conversations from those teleconferences, he might have just revealed how uneasy everyone around the league is about trying to pull off a season.
Of the three options listed, the NFL is definitely trying to pull off option one right now, which is "Have everyone report to training camp and see what happens."
The league has been working closely with the NFLPA over the past several days in order to figure out the answers to the multiple questions related to the pandemic. The NFLPA wanted daily testing and zero preseason games, and it will be getting both after the NFL agreed to the demands this week.
Of course, one question that still hasn't been answered is what will happen if there's a full-on outbreak of the virus toward the end of training camp or during the season. Based on Davis' list, it seems the league would simply cancel each team's four inter-conference games, and then try to play the other 12. The NFL also has several contingency plans built into the schedule. For instance, there are zero divisional games being played in Weeks 3 or 4, which means if worst comes to worst, those two weeks could likely be chopped off the schedule.
If option 2 doesn't solve things, Davis seems to think that will take us to the NFL version of Def Con 1: A full cancellation of the season. If Davis still views this as an option, it's very possible that other owners are also thinking about it.
Although canceling the season is a drastic option, it definitely doesn't seem to be one the NFL is thinking about right now. As a matter of fact, based on what has transpired over the past few days, the NFL probably feels better than ever before about holding a season. The players clearly want to play and since the NFL has been meeting most of their demands related to the virus, everyone has agreed to show up for training camp, which means as long as there isn't a gigantic outbreak among NFL teams, there's a good chance we're going to see a regular season this year. Although there are still some details that need to be ironed out -- like how an opt-out will work for players -- the league and the NFLPA seem to now be on the same side for most issues.
As for Davis, even if the season gets played, there's a good chance that there won't be any fans in Las Vegas to see it. Davis has already announced that he won't attend any games in-person this season if Raiders fans can't attend, and it's looking more and more like Raiders fans won't be allowed to attend any games for what will be the team's inaugural year in Las Vegas.