The NFL preseason is officially trimmed to two games. Week one and week four of the preseason were removed, driven by a desire to give teams more on-field practice time as well as limit the amount of people traveling. The league had already planned to decrease the preseason to three games starting in 2021.
While the league is making adjustments for play during the pandemic, players are reportedly split in how they’re handling the virus. Some have raised concerns about playing during the outbreak, and others are ignoring medical experts and practicing with teammates.
Players with concerns have cited medical conditions like high body mass index, asthma, and sleep apnea that would put them at higher risk if infected with the coronavirus. Other players, including quarterbacks Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton, have ignored the advice of the NFLPA medical officer and are practicing with teammates.
As the NFL and its players work to develop protocols, the league is also considering having fans sign liability waivers if they attend games. The move would be meant to shield teams from COVID-19 lawsuits and be part of recommended best practices for re-opening stadiums. However, those waivers wouldn’t be bulletproof, according to a lawyer who has sued MLB on behalf of fans hit by foul balls.
The number of fans allowed in stadiums will depend mainly on local jurisdictions, which will likely remain in flux as coronavirus cases surge across the country. Other recommendations by the NFL could be for venues to go cashless – already a pre-pandemic trend – prepackaged concession foods, and required masks.
The Buffalo Bills won’t have to worry about the crowds at the moment. New York state guidelines preclude fans from Bills games in Phase 4. Those conditions could change.