Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the NFL surging ahead in anticipation of a full regular season, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is as certain.
During an interview with HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Smith was asked what his confidence level was — on a scale of one to 10 (most confident) — that a season would happen, and he hedged his bets.
“Well, UVA law is graded on a curve, so I’m going to go with probably a six, seven.”
The interview also included Tony Clark of the MLBPA and Michelle Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, and in it, Smith admitted that he would be closely monitoring baseball and basketball.
“Look, a lot depends on what happens with the other sports, and to say that we aren’t looking at what’s going to be happening in basketball and baseball — and we’re not looking at how they work through these things — I’d be lying to you if we’re not. So how about if I go with six, seven on a curve?”
Smith’s response is in stark contrast to the statement made by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made to CNBC who not only said he thought there would be football, but he sounded pretty confident that there would also be fans in the stadium.
“I think there definitely will be a football season this year. The real question is, will there be fans in the stadium? Right now, today, we’re planning to have fans in the stadium, but I think the NFL is looking at, and is very flexible, so that we will be able to start on time and bring that entertainment that is so needed for all of us in this country.”
In an interview with NBC Sports in April, Smith, stated that trying to predict the situation come this fall is extremely difficult at this point:
“I think it’s hard, if not impossible, to make concrete projections on what things might look like three, four, five, six months from now. Where we are today could not have been predicted months ago, leaving uncertainty in its wake. Yes, sports fans are desperate for football. But this scenario is just bigger than the business of the game. So, we pause.
“The country is in desperate need of good leadership right now to make sure that we halt the spread of the virus, that we try to make sure that we are doing everything to make the peak of this outbreak happen as quickly as possible,”
The NFL is making contingency plans and Goodell has made it clear the league would be as flexible as possible and would be ready to make any adjustments necessary:
“In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities. We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this offseason in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual draft off-season program, and the 2020 NFL Draft.”
The NFL has built multiple contingency plans into the 2020 schedule that could be used if any week on the schedule has to be canceled or postponed, and you can read about those plans by clicking here.
Sources: CBS Sports, NBC Sports.