The Coronavirus continues to turn everything in its path upside down. But as the weather heats up, so have conversations about getting back to a sense of normalcy.
The NBA, NHL, and MLB have all had their seasons put on hold by the pandemic, leaving the NFL as the only major American sports league to not yet have its game schedule impacted.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined The Dan Dakich Show to explain the NFL’s unique position and how the league can adapt if need be.
“If [the NFL] could’ve picked a time for a pandemic to break out, other than never, you would pick basically when it did in early March because the Super Bowl had wrapped about a month earlier, and the NFL was heading into the offseason and it was able to carry on its offseason basically uninterrupted,” Schefter told Dakich.
Sure, the 2020 Draft was held virtually. Team meetings and press conferences are now conducted over Zoom. The list goes on. Covid-19 hasn’t stopped operations, although it could put a huge dent in league revenue if social distancing guidelines prohibit fans from attending games.
“Let’s say there’s no fans, just hypothetically, Dan,” Schefter said. “That would be an impact of roughly $100 million per team, times 32, $3.2 billion less. The ‘21 cap is based off the revenue made in ‘20. So there could be 3.2 billion less in revenue, which would impact the cap…roughly $40 million per team [next year].”
“The T.V. money is gargantuan, and that’s the bulk of it. But there’s also plenty of money that’s made in tickets, parking, concessions, merchandise, all those things.”
The impact of the virus is potentially twofold. Not only would the NFL take a huge revenue hit, but the season itself may be conducted on an alternative timetable.
“There’s no timeline because the Super Bowl becomes the secret sauce, Dan,” Schefter said. “The Super Bowl is now slated to be played February 7th in Tampa. I think they could wind up playing that game March 7th or April 7th.”
Schefter referenced the 2001 season when the NFL scrapped Week 2, created a Week 18, and moved the Super Bowl back seven days due to the 9/11 terror attacks.
“The Super Bowl gives the NFL the flexibility it needs to push back the season,” Schefter said. “I think the league is determined to play 16 games.”
We’d all love to see a full season of play. Safety, however, remains number one on the list for everyone involved.
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