Seventy-five years ago today was V-E Day – it was the day that Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allied Forces in Berlin. The world is suffering today from COVID-19; however, if the world can be cleansed of the likes of Adolf Hitler, it can also be cleansed of COVID-19. World War II took the better part of a decade to resolve itself; hopefully, the current struggle will not be as long.
Soon after the signing and the subsequent ratification of the NFL’s new CBA with the players’ union, two players launched legal challenges to the agreement. One was a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board filed by Russell Okung claiming that the union – not the league – had engaged in an unfair labor practice. That challenge always surprised me because Okung had been part of the union’s executive committee during much if not all the negotiation process, but I figured that it would all become clear with time. Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board rejected the complaint filed with it and so I guess clarification is not going to happen unless Okung appeals yesterday’s denial.
The other challenge came from Eric Reid. I do not know its status at the moment, but its allegation was simple to understand. Reid asserts that the CBA that was ratified by the players – in a very close vote – is not the same document that now exists as the CBA. He alleges that changes in the wording in some sections was changed after the ratification vote. Obviously, I have no idea if that happened, but the basis for the complaint there is pretty easy to understand.
I mention those legal situations involving the NFL here because the league unveiled its 2020 schedule yesterday. As presented, the schedule calls for a full 16-game season that will begin at the normal starting time of 10 September – the Thursday after Labor Day. Outside events may cause schedule disruptions but this is the NFL’s baseline plan; given the bleak nature of most news today, maybe we should be glad to see the NFL being optimistic. It can’t hurt…
With the schedule on the table, there are a couple of things that jump out at me:
- The Ravens have a relatively easy schedule given that they are a defending division winner. They face the other three AFC division winners and get both the Chiefs and the Titans to come to Baltimore while the Ravens travel to play the Pats in Foxboro. I am not going to forecast a complete fragmentation for the Pats, but they should be more vulnerable this year than in recent seasons. Moreover, the AFC North rivals appear to be a few strides behind the Ravens.
- Of course, I looked at the Bucs schedule. We will get to see Brady vs Brees twice this season – starting in Week 1 no less. In addition, we will see Brady vs Rodgers (Week 6) and Brady vs Mahomes (Week 12).
- The Niners will need to fight the “Curse of the Super Bowl Loser”. They need to travel to New York in consecutive weeks to play the Jets and then the Giants and they have a very tough mid-season stretch between October 18 and December 7.
- The Colts schedule is pillow-soft at the front end; they could begin the season with a 6-1 record. Then they get Ravens, at Titans, Packers, Titans at Texans, Raiders, Texans at Steelers; they could go 2-5 in that part of the season. Interesting…
- The Bengals had the #1 overall pick in the Draft a couple of weeks ago and the Skins had the #2 overall pick. Those teams will meet in Washington on Sunday November 22. Oh thrill; oh joy…
- The Bengals will host the Jags on Sunday October 4. I suspect we will all be able to find something better to do than pay attention to that game.
Parallel with announcing the 2020 schedule, the NFL also set out the protocols that will allow the teams to open their practice facilities and begin to hold “team events”. These protocols are serious and may be difficult to achieve. The thumb-nail list of hurdles faced by the league and its teams is:
- Permission from local and state governments to open.
- Establishment of a robust infection test and response plan.
- Temperature checks for all people entering and leaving the facilities. Club employees – not players – would always be masked .
- Social distancing rules including limiting the number of players and staff permitted in the facilities at any given time.
Finally, since I mentioned the Niners need to fight the “Super Bowl Loser Curse”, consider this comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“San Francisco has been named the healthiest city in the US according to WalletHub number crunchers.
“At least until the final nine minutes of Super Bowl LIV.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………