KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the NFL kicks off its 2020 season on NBC Thursday night, the threat of COVID-19 is still looming.
“Can we do this safely? We believe we can,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during an exclusive interview with Football Night in America host Mike Tirico.
He said the league has multiple backup plans in the event of an outbreak.
“We’ve been fortunate, but we do expect there are going to be positives,” he said. “We have 2,000 people playing this game, another 1,000 coaches and personnel around in that area and so we have to be prepared for that. And again, we are ready, but listen this is a lot of uncertainty.”
If there is a spike, Goodell said he's prepared to do whatever is necessary – which includes the possibility that games will be canceled.
“We will be driven by health and safety,” Goodell said. “Ultimately, if we get that call where there’s an outbreak, we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of stopping that outbreak, whatever that is.”
He is hopeful, however, that more fans will be permitted to attend games in person at some point this season.
“I think we’re going to see how that evolves as we go, how the virus does in terms of broader society and we’ll be prepared to adjust. I do believe that we’ll be able to have more fans as the season goes on, but of course that depends on a lot of things that none of us can predict – and one of the things I’ve learned over the past few months is do not predict. … We had to adapt, we had to change what we were doing to make sure we got to that starting line. And you know, fortunately we’re here and we feel confident that we can continue this.”
The first game of the season features a battle between Kansas City and Houston.
“The 2020 season is going to be unique, hopefully never be repeated again,” he added.
The first Cleveland Browns game takes place Sunday, Sept. 3 against the Baltimore Ravens.