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NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith Rates Chances of NFL Playing Season at 6 or 7 out of 10

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2020, file photo, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks at the annual state of the union news conference in Miami Beach, Fla. The deadline for applying franchise and transition tags to free agents has been moved from Thursday to Monday by the league and players' union. With the NFL Players Association's members still voting on a new labor agreement the owners already have approved — that deadline was extended by two days to 11:59 p.m. EDT on Saturday — leaving the last time to use the tags at Thursday made little sense.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
Chris Carlson/Associated Press

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said he is cautiously optimistic that the 2020 NFL season will be played, but the league will wait to see how other sports handle the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Probably a six, seven," Smith said when asked the likelihood of the NFL playing 2020 during an appearance on Real Sports (2:03 mark) (via Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio). "A lot depends on what happens with the other sports. To say we aren't looking at what's going to be happening in basketball and baseball, and we're not looking at how they work through these things, I'd be lying to you if we're not. How about I go with a six-seven on a curve?"

Smith appeared with Tony Clark of the MLBPA and Michelle Roberts of the NBPA. Clark gave the most optimistic answer, saying he was an 8.5. Roberts gave the NBA's chances a six.

"I'll give you a six," Roberts said. "It was probably an eight last week. I've gotten some recent concerns expressed by players now that babies, children have been infected. So heightened concerns have come into the conversation. So, I'd say a six."

It seems a little odd that Clark is the most optimistic of the three, given baseball's labor issues. Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported Tuesday the MLBPA was displeased with the latest proposal from ownership regarding a return to play, which called on star players to take a sizable pay cut beyond the prorated salaries they agreed to in March.

The NBA and NFL do not have the same financial issues to bargain because their players are guaranteed a set percentage of league revenue. Players would simply have to approve collectively bargained changes to the season, which is viewed as a formality, provided team sports are deemed safe to return.

It's expected that every major professional league will play without fans for the foreseeable future. 

The NFL has the benefit of its season not being scheduled to begin until September, but this is the time of the year when mandatory workouts typically begin. As social distancing guidelines continue into the summer in most states, it's possible (if not likely) most of the NFL's offseason program will be wiped out or drastically altered.