“The virus will make the decision for us…I would hope that by the time you get to September it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci on impact of the coronavirus on 2020 NFL season
“If the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart.” – Dr. Fauci on having fans attend games
“The league has a convenient way to push the season back four weeks. With no byes in the first four weeks, the NFL could open the season on Thursday, Oct. 8…Super Bowl LV could be held…on Feb. 14, 21 or 28.” – King on the portability of 2020 schedule
“No long-term impact on international ball…Those games should return in 2021.” – King on no scheduled international games in 2020
ProFootballTalk.com Provides the Latest Offseason News and Updates; Florio & Simms on PFT Live Weekdays at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 11, 2020 – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes for Health, speaks with Peter King about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NFL season, and King takes a look at the 2020 NFL schedule in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com.
This week on NBCSN, Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico continues each weekday at Noon ET, followed by The Rich Eisen Show at 1 p.m. ET. King joins Lunch Talk Live this afternoon. NBC Sports Football Flex, a one-hour show featuring the most topical news and analysis from NBC Sports’ digital football content, begins daily at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN. For more information on NBCSN’s weekday programming, click here.
Additionally, ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and NFL insider Mike Florio and analyst Chris Simms provide analysis and updates on PFT Live.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
FAUCI ON THE NFL SEASON
King on speaking with Dr. Anthony Fauci: “This interview with Fauci…was done with the idea that I’d get a good picture of what the NFL faces in the coming months. I think I did – but that doesn’t mean it’s a clear picture…Our fate, and certainly the NFL’s fate in 2020, depends on so many things we can’t know now.”
Dr. Fauci on trying to project the state of events in the coming months: “The virus will make the decision for us…I would hope that by the time you get to September it’s not gonna be the way it is right now.”
Dr. Fauci on playing a season with no fans: “I think it’s feasible that negative testing players could play to an empty stadium. Is it guaranteed? No way…Also, if the virus is so low that even in the general community the risk is low, then I could see filling a third of the stadium or half the stadium so people could be six feet apart.”
King on timing: “It’s clear (Dr. Fauci) thinks the NFL has time on its side. Not just because he sees the virus waning by Labor Day, certainly, but because of other factors that are calendar-friendly…The biggest factor on the NFL’s side might be this: We’re going to be smarter about everything related to the disease in three months.”
Dr. Fauci on the NFL potentially using 200,000 COVID-19 tests on personnel throughout the season: “By the end of August, we should have in place Antigen testings…You could test millions of people, millions of people. But again, we have to make sure that the companies that are doing these tests actually produce them.”
Dr. Fauci on transmitting the virus in a contact sport like football: “Sweat does not do it. This is a respiratory virus…But if people are in such close contact as football players are on every single play, then that’s the perfect set up for spreading.”
Dr. Fauci on testing players prior to each game: “If you really want to be in a situation where you want to be absolutely certain, you’d test all the players before the game. And you say, ‘Those who are infected: Sorry, you’re sidelined. Those who are free: Get in there and play.’”
Dr. Fauci on a second wave of the virus in the fall and winter: “It is so transmissible, and it is so widespread throughout the world, that even if our infections get well controlled and go down dramatically during the summer, there is virtually no chance it will be eradicated…As for the football season and what the fall is going to be: It will be entirely dependent on the effectiveness with which we as a society respond to the inevitable outbreak that will occur.”
ON THE 2020 NFL SCHEDLE
King on the 2020 schedule: “For the past five years, I’ve done a big schedule story – an inside-the-process deep dive into how the sausage got made…I tried this year but got turned down, and I get it…It was best to close the door on the cute angles and just present the schedule as the league did Thursday night.”
King on international games: “With too much travel/COVID-19 uncertainty, it was impossible to be sure those games would be played…Thus, the NFL eliminated the four London and one Mexico games. No long-term impact on international ball, though. Those games should return in 2021.”
King on putting together the schedule without having to plan around other events as a result of the coronavirus: “There are no large public gatherings happening, anywhere (in the fall)…Tours all had NFL stadia holds in the fall dropped because no concerts are happening…The longer the NFL waited to build this schedule, the easier the job became.”
King on Super Bowl LIV: “Super Bowl LV. Scheduled for Feb. 7 in Tampa. Could be held in Raymond James Stadium, easily, on Feb. 14, 21 or 28.”
King on the portability of the schedule: “The league has a convenient way to push the season back four weeks. With no byes in the first four weeks, the NFL could open the season on Thursday, Oct. 8 – the scheduled first game of Week 5 – and have Week 17 on Sunday, Jan. 31.”
King on a Christmas day game: “Couldn’t help but notice the NFL scheduled a late-afternoon Christmas game for 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 25…Why? Because the NFL saw the chance for an extra window, and heading into big TV negotiations, this was one big way to goose the ratings instead of just making this game a Sunday doubleheader game.”
DON SHULA & NFL NOTES
King on Don Shula: “The winningest coach in NFL history died last Monday at 90…He changed Miami forever…He became a head coach at 33 during the Kennedy Administration, and coached 33 years, through eight presidents. He had two losing seasons…In 100 NFL seasons, only one team in one year has won every game it played: Shula’s 1972 Dolphins.”
King on possible game day travel for teams this season: “I think there’s more than one team right now thinking that, in the age of the virus, any road trip that is a two-hour flight or shorter will be day-of-game travel…If the NFL allows day-of-game travel, figuring it’s better to avoid hotels and hotel meals and a couple of extra bus rides than to just stay at home most Saturday nights.”
King on Miami’s schedule: “I think Miami getting one prime-time game surprised me…Miami had a better record than New England after Halloween last year and has a quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who will be playing at some point this season.”
Seahawks tight end Greg Olsen to King on continuing his playing career: “Honestly, if I wanted to take a TV deal, I could have done in it 2017. I’ve had ops each year since then. I just knew there’s no going back…Seattle was a great option for me. I knew I wanted to play. I don’t HAVE to do this. But there was a great vibe to the Seahawks, and I thought it was a perfect place for me.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- Lunch Talk Live: NBC Sports’ hour-long, daily sports talk show, which is hosted by Mike Tirico, continues each weekday at Noon ET on NBCSN. King will appear on today’s show.
- The Rich Eisen Show: Rich Eisen, a four-time Sports Emmy studio host nominee and NFL Network’s first on-air talent, brings his Los Angeles-based The Rich Eisen Show to NBCSN on weekdays at 1 p.m. ET.
- Click here for more information on Lunch Talk Live, The Rich Eisen Show, and NBC Sports Football Flex.
- PFT Live: Mike Florio and Chris Simms continue to discuss offseason and post-Draft storylines.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.