The NFL’s Back-to-normal Season Doesn’t Look So Normal Yet

The Buccaneers and Texans line up for a play in a preseason game last month. Tampa Bay will face the Cowboys in Thursday’s season opener. (Matt Patterson/AP)

There are many promising signs for the NFL with its 2021 season at hand. About 93 percent of players and more than 99 percent of coaches and team staffers are vaccinated. Ticket sales are strong. The league presses forward with plans for a complete season played in full stadiums, with a 17th game for each team and a prosperous economic outlook bolstered by new broadcasting deals and recently forged sports-betting partnerships.

But if all was supposed to be well and everything practically normal for what would amount to a post-pandemic season, the league is not there. Not yet, at least.

“Our challenge right now … is certainly that we are in a major surge,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said recently. “It’s no secret to any of you, nor is it a secret to any of us in medicine, with the impact that the delta variant is having.”

The coronavirus is not the nonissue that the NFL – and the country – once hoped it would be by this fall. The league and teams continue to deal with significant virus-related challenges as the season kicks off with Thursday night’s Buccaneers-Cowboys game in Tampa.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Mark Maske