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Report: NFL schedule contingencies include late February Super Bowl, no byes, October start

The NFL is set to release its schedule sometime next week. We break down the latest news around contingency plans related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

General view of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The NFL is planning on releasing the 2020 regular season schedule by May 9th, and they will have numerous contingencies planned amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Sports Business Journal reporters John Ourand and Ben Fischer unveiled a host of contingencies the league is considering to get in a full 16-game schedule and have the Super Bowl in February in the event of a delay to the start of the season.

When the schedule is released, it will include a traditional 17-week 16-game schedule, but there will be some for maneuvering. According to SBJ, there will be room to start the season as late as October 15th, which would normally be Week 6 of the season. Contingencies include no bye weeks, no Pro Bowl, and no extra week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is currently scheduled for February 7th, but the league is looking at options for pushing it back to any of the other three Sundays in February. If it went to February 28th, that would be the same night as the Oscars — although it is likely easier to move the Oscars off that date if need be.

Beyond that, there are some still concerned about even releasing the schedule next week. The league has planned to release it no later than May 9th, but SBJ learned some NFL folks wonder if it might be interpreted as a challenge to governors who are emphasizing the need for flexibility during the pandemic.

We’re not even into May yet, and most states still have some kind of stay-at-home order in place. Teams are conducting their offseason workout programs in a virtual manner, with a return to facilities indefinitely postponed. The NFL will release a schedule next week, but we likely won’t know if the season will start on time until at least late May, if not later.