Despite being four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL and NFLPA reportedly have not had "meaningful dialogue" on how to handle the potential cancellation of games in 2020.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that although the league has presented a financial plan for a scenario in which games are canceled, the union has been more focused on health and safety in discussions with the league. Per Pelissero, the NFL wants to agree on a deal before training camp starts on July 28.
The NFL has already canceled Weeks 1 and 4 of the preseason and the Hall of Fame Game because of the pandemic, along with all mandatory offseason workouts.
Despite those relatively minor changes, the NFL has publicly said it plans to maintain the status quo for the 2020 season, with teams playing all 16 games and hosting fans in their stadiums.
Any changes to the schedule would have to be collectively bargained. Changes to player salaries would also have to be negotiated, in the case of the league having to play games without fans—a seeming inevitability with COVID-19 continuing its rapid spread across the United States.
With only three weeks until training camp begins, the NFL and the union are working against time to hammer out these details and deserve some level of criticism for not reaching an agreement sooner. The NBA, NFL, MLB and WNBA, as well as other professional sports leagues, used the last four months to iron out safety and financial details with their players.
The NFL and NFLPA had the opportunity and time to negotiate the most comprehensive plan of any league and seemingly chose to hope the pandemic would subside enough to allow for a normal season, without working to set up a viable backup plan in the meantime.
The decision to play the waiting game could wind up putting the 2020 season in danger.