Earlier this week, the NFL made the decision to cut its preseason in half, reducing the slate to just two games instead of the traditional four.
On July 3, the NFLPA voted unanimously to eliminate all preseason games, as reported by ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The vote came during a July 2 conference call with NFLPA player representatives.
While the players have voiced their opinion about preseason games, the NFL has not yet said if they will honor the players’ vote. The possibility that the NFL could cancel all preseason games over concerns of player safety also still remains.
The NFL began considering reducing the number of preseason games in early June. The league’s reasoning is that it would give teams more time to develop gameday protocols and testing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the NFL to cancel spring activities and gave football fans the very first virtual draft.
Graziano reported that the NFL does not think it will need union approval to set the 2020 preseason schedule. Players, however, believe that with the changes to work rules, they should have a say in the schedule decision. The NFL, and the players’ union, still have a long way to go as far as finalizing safety protocols with only a short time remaining. Teams are expected to begin their respective training camps on July 28. Camps will not take place at traditional preseason locations, but at their respective practice facilities and away from fans.
The NFL and the NFLPA have already agreed on safety guidelines. Every player will be required to wear a mask while inside team facilities and while participating in all non-football activities. Teams will be required to keep a two-week supply of PPE (proper protective equipment) on hand. These items include masks, gloves, disinfectants and hand sanitizer.
The NFL had already made plans to cut the preseason by one game beginning in 2021. The move is prompted by the NFL adding a 17th game to each team’s schedule. Teams are expected to play three preseason games followed by a bye week ahead of the start of the regular season.
The NFL announced late last month that the 2020 Hall of Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for Aug. 6 has been cancelled. In addition, the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony scheduled for Aug. 8, which would have featured five players, three contributors and two coaches, was also cancelled.