Falcons’ Arthur Blank Weighs in on 2020 NFL Season Without Fans

Mercedes Benz

getty Mercedes Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons.

The Coronavirus outbreak has put a halt on the sports world with cancellations and suspensions of all major sports. Even the 2020 Summer Olympics have already been postponed to 2021. However, the NFL is one that hasn’t been affected as much, yet.

Free agency still went on as scheduled, but the NFL put specific rules in place in order to keep everyone safe. And the NFL Draft will still go as planned without the public events.

As for the actual NFL season, that start date of the regular season on September 10 seems far enough out that it won’t be affected by COVID-19.

No Fans?

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank weighed in on what he thinks might change in regards to the NFL preseason and training camps in an interview with NBC Sport’s Peter King.

“I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature,” Blank said to Peter King. “No fan attendance. Things like that.”

Blank said it wasn’t yet clear what would happen during the NFL regular season, adding “…your point about the stadiums, with 50,000 to 70,000 people, whatever it may be. I think it’s just too early to tell. Of course we have to be able to provide a safe environment for fans. That’s the most critical thing.”

He is optimistic about getting a 16-game regular season in since the season is sill months away.

“If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that’s really all it is, I would say yes [to 16 games],” Blank said. “Only because it’s so far away from where we are today.”

Blank believes that it is necessary for the NFL to proceed as scheduled, or any sports for that matter to give everyone breathing room from all of the negativity being reported in the news.

“I do think we need football now,” Blank said. “It’s hard to turn on any device you have today, almost any site, television, PCs, laptops, phones — without the first thing popping up being something on the virus.

“And, that’s appropriate. However, I also think that people want a diversion. People want to be optimistic. People want to think about things that are really good times for themselves and their families and their loved ones and their communities. I think to have that kind of hope and aspiration mixed into your daily life is important.”

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How Are Players Affected?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kurt Benkert explained to Heavy.com what the offseason will look like to players.

“The thing is we go through OTAs when we start our minicamp practices. WE do workouts four days out of the week then have meetings the next days for an hour. But that is going to be mostly online from what it sounds like. Then we have a month off anyways and then you start real football.”

Benkert added that having everything online could affect the rookies, but if you’ve been doing it for a year or two then it shouldn’t be hard to adjust.

“I think this is going to affect guys getting drafted. They’re going to have to be more visual and learning in a classroom than learning hands-on. But by the time the season starts there is plenty of time to really be ready for the season.”

Only time will tell.

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