The NFL setting a regular-season schedule this month made sense. It portrayed optimism and was pragmatic. The NFL couldn’t put together a 17-week schedule at the last minute. We all know it can change due to coronavirus restrictions.
While there is still hope the NFL will play a regular season, even if it’s in front of empty stadiums (read Charles Robinson’s state-by-state breakdown for an idea of what the regular season could look like), the preseason might be a different story.
While wiping out the whole preseason, shortening it or playing it to use it as a testing ground all seem like viable options, NFL teams started releasing preseason schedules with specific dates for the August games.
NFL teams start announcing preseason dates
Friday afternoon, NFL teams tweeted out four-game preseason schedules with specific dates and starting times.
Preseason opponents had been set but specific dates had not been assigned, which is standard for the NFL offseason.
San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) May 15, 2020
Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 15, 2020
Other teams tweeted out their schedules. This is usually wallpaper during the NFL offseason, a procedural step that nobody cares much about. If you’re tracking dates of preseason games, you probably are a little too into the NFL.
This year, with coronavirus affecting the entire sports world, it was a curiosity.
Will there be a preseason?
After a couple months without many mainstream sports to watch other than a couple UFC cards, sports fans would happily sign up for an exhibition football game with fourth-string players fighting for a roster spot.
It seems like quite a challenge for the NFL. Robinson’s state-by-state breakdown offers clues for how difficult it will be to put on regular-season games in empty stadiums. Would the NFL really go through a similar hassle just for games that don’t count? Canceling the preseason would be a blow for lesser-known players trying to win a job, coaches wanting to evaluate the roster and personnel evaluators who use preseason film to find players who might be available, but it seems hard to believe a four-week preseason schedule will happen.
Like everything else this year, we’ll see. At least if the NFL plans on moving forward with the preseason games, we know the dates.
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