It’s official. The Minnesota Vikings preseason has been cut in half.
Along with the rest of the NFL, the Vikings’ Week 1 and Week 4 games have been scrapped against the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, respectively, following an announcement Thursday, according to ESPN.
Teams are still scheduled to show up for training camp on July 28, but further precautions have been imposed as the NFL continues to plan for the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Each team will play one home game and one on the road, although adjustments have yet to be made. Visiting teams will travel the day before games.
The joint-decision between the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) comes following the cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game, which is the annual season opener of the preseason — this year between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Players approved of the decision given they will need more time to get into football shape after no rookie training camps and many gyms and conditioning centers were closed throughout the country.
This is the first time the NFL has shortened the preseason since 1978, when the preseason was trimmed from six to four games.
The announcement is one step closer to getting rid of the preseason altogether.
Owners are expected to activate a provision in the collective bargaining agreement to extend the regular season to 17 games, which they can do as early as 2021, which would likely result in fewer preseason games in the future, ESPN said.
The NFL and NFLPA committee will soon issue an acclimatization schedule for the 23 days before training camp for players and team staff.
The Remainder of the Vikings Preseason
Until adjustments are made, the Vikings are slated currently for two road games in Ohio, which will be a reunion for many players and coaches involved.
Per the original schedule, coach Mike Zimmer returns to Paul Brown Stadium, just a 30-minute drive from his ranch in Kentucky, to face the Cincinnati Bengals in the Vikings’ preseason opener on August 21.
After that, the Vikings will face Cleveland on August 30 in former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s second game as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
KSTP’s Darren Wolfson said he’d be shocked if the schedule isn’t adjusted to give each team and a home and road game.
Harbinger of the 2020 Season’s Cancellation?
As of now, two preseason games and the supplemental draft have been canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several states going back into shelter-in-place has only added more uncertainty on whether the 2020 season will go on as planned as Thursday’s announcement could be just the beginning.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has continued to harp that unless NFL teams live inside restrictive bubbles, “football may not happen this year.”
CBS Sports obtained a document outlining the procedure of the NBA’s bubble rule, which would likely be adopted by the NFL:
“Additionally, players and team staff must avoid engaging in the following behaviors during practices (or, at the applicable Phase, scrimmages or games):
- Spitting or clearing their nose on the court
- Wiping the ball with their jersey
- Licking hands (and touching other items, such as shoes or the basketball)
- Playing with or unnecessarily touching their mouthguard (and touching other items)”
They also recommended that players refrain from all unnecessary contact outside of games. No high-fives. No handshakes. And players should remain six feet apart.
The NFL and NFLPA’s upcoming guidelines will be telling of how much of Fauci’s advice will be heeded going forward.