Today, Monday, was supposed to be the day that the NCAA Tournament reached its conclusion. The Masters was set to begin. These are two of the biggest events that the world of sports has to offer, yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic life, they have come to a halt.
We all agree that sports is second fiddle to life right now and hope that all is well where you are. While there is no football season happening at the present moment, facts are that the NFL has, like everyone else, begun to feel the ripple effects of the coronavirus.
It is April which means that the NFL Draft is a hop, skip, and a jump away. The league is firm in their directive to move forward with the annual selection period, but we have already seen them cancel the owners meetings that were set to take place at the end of March as well as delay OTAs (the Cowboys were eligible to begin on April 6th due to having a new head coach). Naturally the question has started to percolate as to whether the 2020 season will feel any impact.
There is anticipation for a season opener with the Cowboys in the Rams’ new stadium
Something else that typically accompanies the month of April is the NFL’s schedule release. While we know all 16 opponents that the Cowboys will face in 2020 the when of it all is of much interest. It was reported last week that the league will likely release the schedule on or around May 9th.
Dallas has some fun road trips to look forward to as they’ll head to Seattle and Baltimore in 2020. The Cowboys will also play a game on the road against the Los Angeles Rams (the last team they beat with authority in 2019) which is significant considering the Rams are opening the new stadium that accompanied their move to Los Angeles four years ago.
You’ll recall that the Cowboys played in the very first competition that the Rams held in their return to Los Angeles (the first preseason game back in 2016). The game began with a Lucky Whitehead kickoff return for a touchdown but was remembered more than anything for Dak Prescott announcing himself to the world.
New stadiums tend to go well with the Cowboys as they attract the biggest audience in sports, America’s Team and what not. According to Peter King, there is anticipation that the Cowboys could play a season opener in the Rams’ new stadium.
How does the NFL schedule the Rams for a Week 1 opener at new So-Fi Stadium?
With reports that Covid-19 could slow the finish to the new Los Angeles stadium—expected to be open by late July—and with California Gov. Gavin Newsom saying Saturday he is “not anticipating” sports events with full stadiums in his state in September, it’s hard to plan a celebratory launch in L.A. Around the NFL, and around Dallas and Los Angeles, there has been anticipation for a national-TV Cowboys-Rams season-opener.
As you can see, King also notes that the COVID-19 pandemic might impact this as well. Social distancing restrictions in place all over the world have ceased operations of all kinds and we are at a point where it is simply too difficult to forecast when anything close to normalcy will return. This clearly throws the finishing of So-Fi Stadium into some doubt, especially considering California Governor Gavin Newsom’s comments.
In terms of how literally you want to take “season-opener”, it is worth mentioning that the NFL began something different last season. Typically the reigning Super Bowl Champions, in this case the Kansas City Chiefs, host the NFL’s kickoff game on the Thursday before Week 1. Last season, to capitalize off of the NFL 100 campaign, the league had the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers in the true opener and the then-reigning champion New England Patriots raised their banner during the first installment of Sunday Night Football.
King also notes that it is “likely” that the league is preparing 12- or 14-game schedules to brace for the possibility of a condensed season should our current world situation lead to that. At this particular moment it’s so hard to know, but the NFL has time to figure out what they want to do in a manner that is as safe as possible.