Super Bowl LV will be a virtual affair—even for the teams.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported teams will not be allowed to arrive in Tampa earlier than two days before the game. In the past, teams have typically arrived one week before the game—both to get themselves acclimated and to fulfill the massive obligations of Super Bowl week.
The NFL is reportedly making the change so that teams can continue applying the same COVID-19 protocols they have all season in their respective cities.
All Super Bowl media activities will be held virtually, in keeping with how the NFL has handled the regular season and playoffs. The league will also likely cancel several other activities, though there has been no announcement on the full schedule.
Keeping teams away from the Super Bowl city also continues the NFL's steadfast refusal to attempt a bubble environment. Despite several outbreaks that have caused games to be pushed back and teams to play without entire position groups, the NFL has seemingly not even considered putting teams into a bubble to maintain competitive balance in the Super Bowl.
We've seen several other sports successfully utilize bubbles to avoid outbreaks and allow games to be played without interruption. Most leagues have now abandoned bubbles, though the NCAA is bubbling for March Madness. It remains to be seen whether the NHL or NBA will implement playoff bubbles for their current seasons.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the United States, it's a surprise that the NFL did not seriously consider moving teams to Tampa and implementing strict protocols to ensure its biggest game isn't marred by the virus.