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New York: Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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A season often in doubt to end on time, no cancellations

A season typically in doubt to end on time, no cancellations

Throughout the summer season, with baseball simply returning from its hiatus and the NHL and NBA rushing to construct “bubbles” to finish their cut off seasons, numerous discounted the possibility of the NFL going through a four-month schedule on time.

Without cancellations or substantial hold-ups, too, most likely even to the staging of the Super Bowl.

It’s now 2021, and while the league isn’t celebrating about getting every regular-season video game played in an NFL arena, perhaps it should. When the Eagles host Washington for the season ending, a sense of accomplishment and relief would be natural.

“It’s been a tremendous accomplishment by our players and clubs, all personnel who have worked on this, and certainly our relationship with the players association,” states Jeff Miller, the league’s executive vice president of interactions, public affairs and policy. “As we are thinking about Feb. 7 and getting to the Super Bowl, we all think about the many weeks it has taken to get here with an appreciation and gratitude.”

Miller is downplaying the timeline. The NFL started developing its strategies and procedures to alleviate COVID-19 even prior to the 2020 company year started in March. Virtual truth ended up being, well, virtual truth when such occasions as complimentary company, the draft, and all offseason activities went remote. A series of procedures, upgraded throughout the year, were created to make group practice centers and arenas as safe as possible throughout the pandemic.

Preseason video games were canceled – a four-game exhibit schedule would appear a distant memory – and the schedule began on time in September. Arenas usually were empty of fans, producing a spooky environment in locations such as Lambeau Field and the Linc that normally rock with sound and interest from the stands. Ultimately, adequate locations permitted socially distanced fans in some structures, and the NFL reached 1 million in presence, something it approaches in one complete week of regular-season video games under typical scenarios.

The monetary hit has actually been huge, approximated at $2 billion in profits losses. No, that doesn’t imply franchises will ask hardship or vanish. Broadcast agreements offset much of the unfavorable effect. However the absence of ticket sales and costs at video games and at the draft that was prepared for last April in Las Vegas, plus a scaled-down Super Bowl week, impacts whatever from the earnings line to the wage cap – which might be stagnant for 2021, requiring most every group to rush.

Rushing ended up being a requirement for the clubs experiencing COVID-19 break outs (Baltimore, Tennessee, Denver, New England, Cleveland) and even a few of their challengers as video games were postponed and moved. For the very first time in the modern-day period, the NFL used every day of the week, with a juicy Thanksgiving night match in between Baltimore and Pittsburgh ending up striking the field the following Wednesday.

Denver utilized a transformed pass receiver at quarterback when its whole QB group was disallowed for a video game versus New Orleans. Cleveland saw its leading 4 wideouts sidelined for a video game, too. Both the Broncos and Browns were beaten in those contests.

“It’s kind of the times that we’re living in right now,” Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell stated when he was required to remain a match with Tampa Bay. Detroit lost, too.

Together With the Lions’ Matt Patricia, head coaches losing their tasks throughout the season were Dan Quinn in Atlanta and Expense O’Brien in Houston, where he likewise was basic supervisor. Fellow GMs Bob Quinn in Detroit, Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta and Dave Caldwell in Jacksonville were fired.

Likewise gone: Redskins. The Washington franchise, after years of social and racial protests about the nickname, ditched it in a year of social and racial reckoning.

Players and franchises across the pro football landscape launched or took part in initiatives emphasizing equality, education, voter registration, police and prison reform, and economic irregularities. They donated time and money – lots of both – to those programs, even during the pandemic.

“I hope that happens for years and years to come because we know how powerful the shield is and the NFL can be,” Broncos safety Justin Simmons said, “and there could be a lot of good change coming with that support.”

On the field, there was the rise of the Dolphins and Browns, both on the verge of qualifying for the postseason in their finales Sunday. Tampa Bay, with some 43-year-old guy named Tom Brady at quarterback, snapped a 12-season postseason drought.

And the demise of the Texans, Jets, Eagles, Vikings and, most notably, the 2019 NFC champion 49ers, and the Brady-less Patriots.

Rookies made their mark, too, including quarterbacks Justin Herbert of the Chargers and Joe Burrow of the Bengals, whose season was cut short by a knee injury as he was setting first-year QB records that Herbert eventually surpassed. Running backs James Robinson in Jacksonville, Antonio Gibson in Washington, Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Kansas City, Jonathan Taylor in Indianapolis, and J.K. Dobbins in Baltimore were terrific.

So were receivers Justin Jefferson in Minnesota, CeeDee Lamb in Dallas, Brandon Aiyuk in San Francisco and Chase Claypool in Pittsburgh. Offensive linemen went high in the draft, and a few came through right away: Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs, the Jets’ Mekhi Becton, Cleveland’s Jedrick Wills, Miami’s Austin Jackson and the Giants’ Andrew Thomas.

Defensive rookies making their marks ranged from Chase Young in Washington to Jeremy Chinn in Carolina to Patrick Queen in Baltimore to Raekwon Davis in Miami to Julian Blackmon in Indianapolis.

But for every newcomer who turned heads, there were the injuries that sidelined stars. Denver didn’t have LB Von Miller all season. Dallas lost QB Dak Prescott, the Giants were without RB Saquon Barkley, Cleveland saw WR Odell Beckham Jr. go down, and Carolina barely had 2019 All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

Perennial offensive line dominators Tyron Smith of the Cowboys and Mike Pouncey of the Chargers were absent. So were DE Nick Bosa, LB Chandler Jones, and CB Richard Sherman.

All of that on top of the COVID-19 complications.

“It’s just you never knew when that was going to happen,” Jets coach Adam Gase says. “It’s hard to sit there and prepare for it because you never knew where it was coming from and what position group would be affected or what players will be affected. I mean, it was a valuable learning experience, to say the least.”

So here we are, beginning 2021 with a relatively bright outlook. No one can say that was totally expected.


AP Pro Football Writers Arnie Stapleton and Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed.


More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Hmm. yes i understand the
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