The NFL made waves last week when it announced the cancellation of the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, the first contest lost to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That concerning trend has continued into July, as the league will cut the first and last week of its preseason schedule, according to a report from NBC Sports.
The move will cost the Los Angeles Chargers their preseason home matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 16 as well as their trip to Santa Clara to play the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 3. Accordingly, the Chargers will now make their 2020 exhibition debut at SoFi Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams. That game will take place at 7 p.m. PT on Aug. 22.
Though the NFL has yet to officially announce the preseason reduction or its justification for doing so, the decision comes in the wake of the COVID-19 resurgence across the country. This week, several states including California implemented additional restrictions for businesses and people in public spaces in hopes of tampering down the virus's spread. The league and NFLPA still have progress to make regarding testing and player safety, chief concerns with the 2020 season coming into view.
The NFL's decision will necessarily limit potential exposure for players and club personnel as well as provide additional runway for training camp. At present, most teams will report on July 28, though the reduction of preseason games casts some doubt as to whether the league will stick with that date. Already, the NFL has limited training camps to team facilities and banned joint practices with other clubs.
Despite those concerns, both the NFL and NFLPA have repeatedly expressed confidence that the 2020 regular season will occur as scheduled.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH