“The NFL’s schedule release show was just what we needed.”
I don’t know if that will actually be true, but I suspect I will see at least a few headlines that look similar to the above as early as Friday morning—or mere hours after the NFL’s three-hour prime-time schedule release special airs on the NFL Network on Thursday night.
I just wish some people weren’t so convinced that the NFL releasing its 2020 regular season schedule was the exact opposite of what we needed, right now.
You see, ever since COVID-19 put a halt to the entire world in mid-March—or right around the time the NFL’s new calendar year was set to kick-off—the league has drawn constant criticism for trying to keep things as status quo as possible.
Since mid-March was when unrestricted free agency began, naturally, people had a problem with teams signing free agents to lucrative deals. Was it the optics? It had to be, since no handshakes were involved.
Even six weeks later, after the entire world—including sports fans—had run out of memes to post on social media regarding Anne Frank and that thing she had to do which was much, much worse than self-isolation, there were those who didn’t want the league to conduct its annual NFL player draft.
Again, though, there were no handshakes. There weren’t even any bro hugs from Commissioner Roger Goodell (even if he did try to virtually bro hug one of his new draftees during a video chat). That’s right, the 2020 NFL Draft was a virtual event, and it couldn’t have come off better. It was an amazing production under the circumstances.
And it really was what we needed at that time—at least sports fans.
But just when I thought we were past all of this petty optics business, there are those that feel like the NFL is being tone deaf and insensitive by releasing its full 2020 regular season schedule—even if it did delay the release date by a few weeks or so.
What’s the big deal? Does it look bad considering what’s going on right now? If you were going to reel me in with that kind of talk, it would have happened during the free agency period.
As for the draft, I’m guessing the dreaded bad optics weren’t a thing. Otherwise, the league wouldn’t have drawn record ratings for the three-day event.
And unless Goodell invites the entire Bills Mafia to the schedule release and has them crash through a burning table after each team’s dates and times are announced, I don’t see how it’s going to come off as insensitive.
OK, maybe it’s not the optics that you have a problem with. Maybe it’s the desire to release a full schedule that could very well be altered if September 10 (the scheduled date for the league’s Thursday Night Kickoff Classic) rolls around, and we’re still dealing with the Coronavirus shutdown.
Perhaps that will happen, but schedules get changed all the time in sports and in life.
Heck, the NFL has a flex system in place, where the times of games are altered with very little notice. It happens every year. Annoying? Yes, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m guessing if the league has to delay the start of its Week 1 slate of games, it won’t be by a week or two. It will probably be a month, maybe even six weeks. Therefore, if you decide to buy tickets to a game—even one that is out of town—you’ll have plenty of time to make alternate plans.
If you can’t make the game, I’m fairly certain that the league and its teams will find a way to make it right. These are extraordinary times, and I doubt the NFL will operate in an ordinary fashion when it comes to its paying customers.
There’s nothing wrong with the NFL planning ahead, preparing, just in case we’re back to normal (or at least as close to it as possible) four months down the road.
As for the schedule release, we really do need it. We can use the distraction. It’s like planning a vacation. They say it’s almost as much fun to plan a vacation as it is to actually go on one.
You know how your wife or girlfriend will sometimes bring up a hypothetical vacation out of the blue, which leads to a pleasant two or three-hour conversation about how much fun that would be?
That’s what picturing a 2020 NFL season may be like for a lot of season-ticket holders who live for going to see their favorite football teams play eight-to-10 times a year.
Will they necessarily get to go on time or at all?
I don’t know, but someone once said that the key to happiness is always having something to look forward to.
It’s okay for the NFL and its fans to look forward to a regular season—even if it ultimately doesn’t come on time.