Jeff Pash: NFL Focused On Playing a 'Traditional Season' That Starts on Time

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 21: NFL executive Vice President Jeff Pash address the media at the Roosevelt Hotel on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12, the league is conducting it's annual owners meeting in New Orleans.   (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The NFL remains hopeful of kicking off its 2020 season as usual and with fans in attendance despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeff Pash, the league's executive vice president and general counsel, spoke about the situation with reporters Tuesday: "That's our expectation. Am I certain of that? I'm not certain I'll be here tomorrow. But I'm planning on it, and in the same way, we're planning on having a full season."

Pash also addressed whether the NFL is discussing any contingencies such as games behind closed doors or a delay to the league's planned Sept. 10 start date.

"All of our discussions, all of our focus, has been on a normal, traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums, and going through a full 16-game regular season and a full set of playoffs," he said. "That's our focus." 

While postponing or canceling games now might seem hasty, some questioned whether Pash's position painted too optimistic a picture:

new-age analytical @benbbaldwin

The NFL season may or may not start on time, but being confident about anything happening 5 months from now seems like a stretch https://t.co/SbEacg5tzT

Aaron Schatz 🏈 @FO_ASchatz

Realistically, I think an NFL season could start as late as early November and could be 12, 14, or 16 games. An NFL season that goes 12 games Nov-Jan with Feb playoffs is better than nothing. We just have to see what happens in this country over the next few weeks.

Danny O'Neil @dannyoneil

I am honestly baffled as to why the NFL — after weeks of almost total silence — is now publicly projecting an on-time start to the season. Are they trying to assure advertisers?

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on ESPN Radio last Thursday (h/t TMZ Sports) he'll "be shocked if we have NFL football this fall...if we have college football."

The NFL has made minor changes to its offseason business already to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The league delayed the start of offseason training activities and prohibited in-person meetings as part of free agency. The NFL draft will still be broadcast April 23-25, but all of the public events connected to the draft in Las Vegas were canceled. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently sent a memo to all 30 teams to announce that all team facilities will be closed until at least April 8.

At some point, Goodell will likely have to make more difficult decisions regarding the 2020 season.

More than 809,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed throughout the world, and the United States' 165,874 cases are the most of any country, per CNN. There have been 3,178 deaths in the U.S., which ranks fourth in the world.