The NFL will unveil its full regular season schedule on Thursday, but the league is considering contingencies in case the Covid-19 pandemic forces a delay to the season kickoff.
Any kind of delay would almost certainly push back the first game of the football calendar. The Hall of Fame Game is currently scheduled for August 6th, with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers set to meet in Canton, Ohio. Tickets have already been sold, but David Baker, executive director of the Hall of Fame, has said the organization is considering five contingency plans in case there is any kind of delay.
Baker did not reveal every contingency, but he offered some details in an interview with USA Today. The most basic one would be pushing the game and induction ceremony to some later point in August if the preseason is scaled down. If the season is delayed, the first thing to be cut would be preseason games. The Hall of Fame Game is normally its own week of preseason football, followed by four weeks for all 32 teams. That would almost certainly not be the case if the season was delayed.
A second related contingency plan would be if the game is scratched, they would still consider doing the enshrinement ceremony. Baker said it could be combined with the Centennial Celebration planned for September 16-19. 10 selections from the senior pool are going to be inducted then to mark the NFL’s 100th anniversary, so one option would be to combine them with the 2020 class of modern-day, coach, and contributor selections.
Baker told USA Today that holding a “virtual enshrinement” was not an option. He wants to preserve the Hall of Fame parade and Gold Jacket Dinner.
If that cannot be accomplished this year, there are two additional options. One would be staging the enshrinement during Easter Weekend of 2021, and the other would be inducting two classes in August of 2021.