An NFL season typically unsure about ending on time, no cancellations

During the summer when baseball was returning from hiatus and the NHL and NBA scrambled to create “bubbles” to end their interrupted seasons, many derided the prospect that the NFL would go through a four-month schedule on time.

Even without cancellations or significant delays, probably even until the Super Bowl is staged.

It’s now 2021, and while the league isn’t excited about playing every regular season game at an NFL stadium, maybe it should be. When the Eagles host Washington for the season finale tonight, a sense of achievement and relief would come naturally.

“It’s been a tremendous achievement from our players and clubs, everyone who worked on it and certainly our relationship with the players’ association,” said Jeff Miller, executive vice president of communications, public affairs and politics for the league. “As we think of February 7th and get to the Super Bowl, we all think of the many weeks it took to come here with appreciation and gratitude.”

Miller understands the timeline. The NFL began formulating its plans and protocols to mitigate COVID-19 even before Fiscal Year 2020 began in March. Virtual reality became virtual reality when events like free storyline, drafting, and all off-season activities were removed. A number of protocols, updated during the year, were developed to keep the team’s exercise facilities and stadiums as safe as possible during the pandemic.

Preseason games have been canceled – an exhibition schedule with four games seems to be a thing of the past – and the schedule started on time in September. The stadiums were generally empty of fans, creating an eerie environment in places like Lambeau Field and Linc that usually rock with noise and excitement from the stands. Eventually enough space allowed socially distant fans in some buildings, and the NFL reached 1 million viewers, which under normal circumstances is achieved in a full week of regular season games.

The financial success was enormous, estimated at a loss of revenue of $ 2 billion. No, that doesn’t mean franchises are begging for poverty or disappearing. Broadcasting contracts are a major part of the negative impact. However, the lack of ticket sales and spending on games and the draft slated for last April in Las Vegas, as well as a reduced Super Bowl week, are affecting everything from the payline to the salary cap – which are stagnating for 2021 could and will force almost every team to climb.

Scrambling became a necessity for the clubs experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks (Baltimore, Tennessee, Denver, New England, Cleveland) and even for some of their opponents as the games were delayed and postponed. For the first time in modern times, the NFL played every day of the week, and the following Wednesday a juicy Thanksgiving matchup between Baltimore and Pittsburgh landed on the field.

Denver used a converted wide receiver at the quarterback when his entire quarterback group was suspended for a game against New Orleans. In Cleveland, the four best wideouts were also canceled for one game. Both the Broncos and the Browns were beaten in these competitions.

“It’s kind of the time we’re living in now,” said Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell when he was forced to sit out a matchup with Tampa Bay. Detroit lost too.

In addition to Matt Patricia of the Lions, Dan Quinn in Atlanta and Bill O’Brien in Houston, where he was also general manager, lost their jobs during the season. The directors-general Bob Quinn in Detroit, Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta and Dave Caldwell in Jacksonville were laid off.

Also gone: Redskins. The Washington franchise dropped it in a year of social and racial reckoning after years of social and racist protests against the nickname.

Players and franchises in the pro football landscape have started or participated in initiatives focused on equality, education, voter registration, police and prison reform, and economic irregularities. They donated time and money – many of both – to these programs, even during the pandemic.

“I hope this will happen for years to come because we know how powerful the shield is and how high the NFL can be,” said Justin Simmons, Broncos security, “and with that support there could be a lot of good change . “

On the field there was the rise of the Dolphins and Browns, both of whom were close to qualifying for today’s postseason in their final. Tampa Bay, with a 43-year-old man named Tom Brady at the quarterback, had a 12-season post-season drought.

And the death of the Texans, Jets, Eagles, Vikings, and most importantly the 2019 NFC Champion 49ers and the Patriots without Brady.

Rookies also made names, including quarterbacks Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Joe Burrow of the Bengals, whose season was interrupted by a knee injury when he set first year quarterback records that Herbert eventually surpassed. James Robinson in Jacksonville, Antonio Gibson in Washington, Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Kansas City, Jonathan Taylor in Indianapolis and JK Dobbins in Baltimore were all great.

Likewise, the recipients Justin Jefferson in Minnesota, CeeDee Lamb in Dallas, Brandon Aiyuk in San Francisco and Chase Claypool in Pittsburgh. Offensive linemen went up in the draft, and some got through right away: Tristan Wirfs from Tampa Bay, Mekhi Becton from Jets, Jedrick Wills from Cleveland, Austin Jackson from Miami, and Andrew Thomas from Giants.

Defensive rookies who have made a name for themselves ranged from Chase Young in Washington to Jeremy Chinn in Carolina to Patrick Queen in Baltimore, Raekwon Davis in Miami and Julian Blackmon in Indianapolis.

But for every newcomer who twisted his head, there were the injuries that the stars put out of the way. Denver didn’t have a Von Miller linebacker all season. Dallas lost quarterback Dak Prescott, the Giants were running back with no Saquon Barkley, Cleveland watched broad receiver Odell Beckham Jr. go down, and Carolina barely had an all-pro in 2019 to beat Christian McCaffrey.

The perennial offensive line dominators Tyron Smith of the Cowboys and Mike Pouncey of the Chargers were absent. So were the defensive end Nick Bosa, linebacker Chandler Jones and cornerback Richard Sherman.

All of this on top of the COVID-19 complications.

“It’s just that you never knew when that would happen,” said Jets coach Adam Gase. “It is difficult to sit there and prepare because you never knew where it was coming from and which position group would be affected or which players would be affected. I mean, it was a valuable learning experience, to say the least.”

So we’re starting 2021 with a relatively good outlook. Nobody can say that this was entirely expected.

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