Entering the 2020 season, the NFL formed multiple contingency plans in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The league could extend the season by moving Super Bowl LV to March 2021 because of coronavirus scheduling changes, Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said during a virtual pep rally prior to the team's game against the Buccaneers on Sunday.
"We could move the Super Bowl back as far as four weeks," Murphy said, via Aaron Nagler. "Obviously, we'd prefer not to do that, but you do have that flexibility if we run into a number of outbreaks with different teams or if we have to kind of move the schedule back."
In the first six weeks of the season, over a dozen games have been rescheduled because of positive tests and contact tracing. The New England Patriots had to move its Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos to this past Sunday after quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive.
As players test positive across the league, there have been outbreaks within programs. The Jacksonville Jaguars placed 12 of their 16 practice players on Reserve/COVID-19 list after positive tests on Oct. 17. The Tennessee Titans, who faces a fine from the NFL, had at least 24 confirmed COVID-19 cases, which led to two postponed games and the league schedule to be reshuffled.
However, there have been false positives. The Indianapolis Colts had four players who initially tested positive for COVID-19, but when retested several hours later, the results were negative. The Jets had a similar scare with a single player on Oct. 9 prior to playing the Arizona Cardinals.
Out of the 38,880 tests that were administered to a total of 7,799 players and team personnel for Oct. 11 - Oct. 17, there were eight new confirmed positive tests among players and 11 among other personnel, the NFL and NFLPA announced on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Prior to the season starting, there were several reports that the Super Bowl could get postponed a few weeks (or even a few months) if necessary; however, Murphy is the first front office member to confirm on the record that moving the Super Bowl is a possibility.
Murphy continued, explaining that the cancellation of the Pro Bowl does make it easier to push the season back a week and keep the Super Bowl as is. Currently, Super Bowl LV is scheduled to be held in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 7, 2021.
If the league decides to postpone to March, this would mean that five makeup weekends were necessary to finish the season. However, according to Pro Football Talk, the NFL played postseason and the Super Bowl with only nine regular-season games in 1982.