NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league remains committed to finishing the regular season as scheduled.
Goodell also said on a conference call that while the NFL is considering a bubble format for the playoffs, it wouldn’t necessarily resemble what the NHL and NBA used in successfully in completing their seasons.
“It will take partnership and discipline to complete this season. I’m confident we’ll be able to do it,” Goodell said, referring the NFL Players Association, the clubs and the players.
Added Dawn Aponte, the league’s chief football administrative officer: “In terms of the guidelines we have used, our guiding principle is medical and we are trying to ensure we are playing all games safely. Providing we can do so within 17 weeks, that is what our objective is and will continue to be.”
Goodell and Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, noted that a bubble concept can have many iterations.
“We don’t see the bubble as most refer to it in one location,” Goodell said. “We feel strongly that our protocols are working. We’re willing to adjust and adapt those protocols, take additional steps. But I don’t see us doing the bubble in the sense that the media focuses on it.”
Sills pointed to the need “to recognize whenever we think about structuring something for the teams, look at the risks and benefits. There is no plan that will be completely risk free. We have to make what we think is the best and safest decision.
“All options remain on the table and will be driven by what the data show us. We have adjusted our protocols nearly every week.”
Sills also stressed that the NFL won’t be seeking any preferential treatment when vaccines become readily available. He emphasized that vaccines must first go to the front-line health workers.
“We want to obviously work with authorities,” Sills said. “We never want to do anything that hinders the public health effort. If it becomes appropriate for us to have vaccines available for coaches and players and staff, and not hinder the public health effort … then certainly we will consider that. We are in no way going to ‘cut the line.”’
For Week 12, the NFL was forced to reschedule the Baltimore at Pittsburgh game from Thanksgiving night to Sunday, then Tuesday and finally Wednesday because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Ravens.
Also, the Broncos played their regularly scheduled game with the Saints on Sunday despite having no experienced quarterbacks due to violations of the league’s coronavirus protocols.
There’s also been disruption to the Week 13 schedule because of the Ravens’ situation.