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The NFL Needs To Think Outside The Box

New York Giants Introduce New Head Coach Joe Judge Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

I am a huge nerd. As a self proclaimed nerd, I can fully admit all the nerdy things I do. One such activity is looking up the words of the day on various dictionary websites. In early April I came across one that would become a very significant word in the times we find ourselves in.

Force Majeure -{ French} Pronounced (fawrs ma-zhœr): an unexpected and disruptive event that may operate to excuse a party from a contract.

Now to tie this back into football. The current CBA does not have a force majeure clause in it. This means the NFL could be obligated to pay full salaries even if there is no season. They also could be obligated to pay full salaries even if revenue dips. The NFL will most likely want to avoid these issues at all cost. To do so, they will need to do more than what they currently have in place to keep everyone (fans, stadium staff, medical staff, media, production, players, coaches) safe. I have thought of two potential plans that the league should seriously consider looking into to stave off these potential money issues.

The 2020 NFL season isn’t the only football season up in the air. In addition, the 2020 college season is also at risk. If colleges are mostly online and football activities are canceled, an opportunity opens up for the NFL. All of a sudden a large swath of housing and training facilities open up for NFL teams to be bubbled, much like the NBA. There would be enough housing for players and families. The infrastructure is already in place, and the colleges would also benefit by making up some lost revenue. This is the most realistic plan, but it is contingent on college activities being disrupted quite a bit. Plan C is a little more desperate.

COVID cases and hospitalizations are rising here in the US. Most of Europe, Canada and parts of Asia have a relatively firmer grip on things. In some places, fans will be allowed back into stadiums this month. Here in the US, things are to the point that preseason games are already being canceled. All the while, the NFL still plans on having a full season, and has even announced plans on having fans attend games. This is a blind attempt at keeping things status quo. The NFL has very good reasons for this. There are billions of dollars at stake.

The status quo is not going to cut it. Nevermind actual games. The NFL can’t even put in realistic guidelines for pre-season activities. John Harbaugh has been very vocal in his displeasure in the league’s attempts to make things safe.

Moving the league overseas would be quite the undertaking. A mountainous, logistical nightmare. Bubbling teams on college campuses will require a lot of dominos falling into place. Each plan has its challenges, but the consequences of not taking drastic measures could have a ripple effect.. A loss of a season could mean ruin for a lot of networks. Channels like FOX have grown very dependent on the NFL. These networks are flailing in the water awaiting the return of football. If it doesn’t, FOX and others will be cash strapped. The NFL is starting to realize their plan won’t work. They have come up with the proposal of holding 35% of the player salaries in escrow. This was not taken too well by the players.

The NFL needs to end this dance of half-measures and “impossible” guidelines. None of that will help us have an NFL season this year. It won’t help their network buddies stay afloat. If the league is serious about maintaining profits and people’s health, then they have to start thinking in unconventional ways. It doesn’t matter if it is getting college campuses ready for an NFL takeover, or exploring overseas options like Japan and their Olympic facilities. Maybe there are other options I haven’t thought of. Either way, moves need to be made to keep the NFL on people’s TVs this fall. Time is running out.