NFL Kicks Off Season Mid-Crisis

As we continue to live through this epidemic, national sports such as Basketball and Baseball have either continued or kicked off their 2020-21 seasons. But for the NFL, on the other hand, things seem to be a bit messy.

Going back to April, the 2020 NFL Draft, which was initially held in Las Vegas, was canceled and instead held virtually. Before the official announcement that the NFL season will kick off, Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker announced that the 2020 Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburg Steelers would be canceled and will take place in August of 2021. Fast forward a few days later, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that after reaching an agreement with the NFLPA, the 2020-21 preseason games would not take place. Now the question remained, would there be football at all this year?

The NFL and the NFLPA reached an agreement on COVID-19 adjustments to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA.)

“We have worked collaboratively to develop a comprehensive set of protocols designed to minimize risk for fans, players, and club and league personnel,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the teams and fans via nfl.com. “These plans have been guided by the medical directors of the NFL and the NFLPA and have been reviewed and endorsed by independent medical and public health experts, including the CDC, and many state and local public health officials. The season will undoubtedly present new and additional challenges, but we are committed to playing a safe and complete 2020 season, culminating with the Super Bowl,”

The reached agreement gave players the option to opt-out of participation in the 2020-21 season and allow voluntary opt-outs. According to nfl.com, players who chose to opt-out of participating and are high-risk candidates will receive a $350,000 stipend, along with that, their contracts will not be advanced.

On the other hand, voluntary opt-outs will receive a $150,000 salary advance, and just as high-risk candidates, their contracts will toll. The NFL also has required every team to cut down their rosters to only 80 players, Ian Rapoport reported on nfl.com.

On the financial side, the league has decided that any 2020 revenue shortfall will be spread into the next four years starting 2021. Although the 2020 salary cap of $198.2 million stays the same, the salary cap will be lowered to just $175 million (via nfl.com).

Now, as the NFL prepares to kick off its 101st season on September 10 (last Thursday), many teams have made significant changes in allowing fans in their stadiums. Some teams will allow about a small capacity (20%) of fans in their stadium for the entirety of the season, while others do not allow any fans for the first few weeks. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs kicked off the official 2020-21 season against the Houston Texans last Thursday. As for now, all we can do is wait. Football has come back, and despite many changes, the build-up to kick-off night appeared to be the same, and football fans could not be any more excited.