Like a quarterback making last-second adjustments before the ball is snapped, the NFL is not ready to commit to a specific plan amid the unpredictable twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Owners of the league's 32 teams met by video call Thursday with commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL officials to discuss the evolving plans for training camps, the regular season, health and safety issues, and what Goodell called "our comprehensive and expanding social justice and Inspire Change" efforts.
"We've discussed all these topics with the (NFL Players Association) on numerous occasions, as recently as the last couple of days," Goodell said later on a conference call with reporters. "We're both focused on ensuring that players as well as coaches and others essential to the game will have the safest possible environment this season. Obviously, that includes our fans also. ... Obviously, there's a lot more for us to do."
This much has been decided: The league has canceled the Aug. 6 Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys in Canton, Ohio. Enshrinement week for this year's class will now take place Aug. 5-9, 2021.
Clubs have been advised that training camps are expected to open July 28, the schedule set forth in the new collective bargaining agreement. The league is in active discussions with the NFLPA about the preseason and the number of exhibition games each team will play.
Depending on state and local regulations, some teams might be able to have spectators at games, and others might not. Owners voted Thursday in favor of allowing teams to create a buffer zone by tarping the seats closest to the field -- and allowing those tarps to be emblazoned with advertisements.
Renie Anderson, the NFL's chief revenue officer, said the seat covers "will provide clear separation between the players and the fans."
Anderson added: "There's no requirement for the clubs to integrate advertising. It's somewhat of an added benefit if there is an opportunity there."
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