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NFL Cancels Entire 2020 Preseason

Did we say that the NFL was going to cancel half the preseason in 2020? We meant the entire preseason. The NFLPA has informed its members there will be no preseason this year to help try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. More details to come, I'm sure.

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37 comments, Last at 23 Jul 2020, 9:46am

1 possibility, before straight full cancellation

season = 6 games, all intra division, playoffs from there.


I'm sure they'll try to do more, with fanless games (like soccer). There's a good possibility of full cancellation too, but I think that'll be there last gasp to save a season. Delay until the last 6 weeks of the 'season' and try for a small 'localized' season from there (and hope things are more in control), with playoffs (which may be only div winners). 

2 They could do something much…

They could do something much closer to a full season with a similar localized setup if they combined divisions into 4 megadivisions of 8 teams each.

Regular season = 14 games, 2 each against each team in your megadivision

Playoffs = 8 or 12 teams, the top 2 or 3 in each megadivision

3 Sure but those soccer games…

Sure but those soccer games are being played in vastly different conditions than we have here in the US. Those countries actually took the pandemic seriously from the beginning, and therefore they are in much better shape than we are. It's sad and pathetic watching the US see other countries opening up and just assuming it was safe forbus too. We are a country of immature toddlers.

4 It takes a group effort to…

It takes a group effort to beat this.

Thunderf00t made a pretty good video about it in April this year.

For the virus to die out, the number of infections should be lower than the number of people that cure from the disease.

So that evens out to an infection rate of 1.055 per infected person per day. That would mean that a sick person doesn't infect more than he cures (by being not sick anymore).

That also means that if 1/6 people have a normal spread rate of 1.3 and the other 5/6 are completely good at 1.0 spread rate, then that is still not enough to stop the spreading. So if only 1/6 thinks that Covid is a hoax by the media/trump/satan/whatever then ... no football for a long time.


6 Todlers

I get that bagging on the US COVID approach is something of a national sport in the US but come on; below is a chart of deaths/million - the US is ranked 8th, 6 of the 7 with worse rates it are European countries, some of which took very hard lockdown steps early on. Several are so far ahead of the US that it's unlikely the US will ever "catch up".


If you exclude the brutally mismanaged response in the tristate area the US did very well through the first wave. The question for evaluating the US response is what happens as the second wave plays out (and is the second wave inevitable in countries currently trying to open in Europe, and if not is the cure of staying locked down worse than COVID). The facts on those questions are definitely not in and depend deeply on the twin questions of whether/when there will be an effective vaccine, and how long a western country can survive lockdown without costs that are "worse" by whatever definition than the pandemic playing out. No one knows the answer to either of those questions; It is infuriating to see presuppositions about the answers that serve the pro-lockdown view peddled as facts.

In point of fact the lack of a second spike in the tristate area strongly points to football returning as normal on the other side of a second wave that is playing out on an accelerated timetable in the US and at this rate will be done by the fall; I say all this as a Canadian, in a country that had an extremely mild first wave and has bet big on a successful vaccine before the country collapses in bankruptcy - it's very unclear at this point whether that bet will succeed, certainly it is/will bring great suffering. We'll see what happens but I'd be shocked if there was CFL football here this fall.


10 Your linked website has some…

In reply to by sbond101

Your linked website has some good info. But reporting methods vary so much it is difficult to compare. I think looking at excess mortality presents a truer comparison between countries. This comparison shows the US in much the same relative position but puts Ecuador and Peru way out there (1000+ deaths per million).


11 Lat-Am

It's certainly fair to say that using reported death/million really breaks down at a certain point, and is totally useless in looking at most of the global south. I don't know enough about the reporting in places like Ecuador, Peru, or other "outperforming" areas like Columbia or Iran to effectively comment on where they actual stand by comparison, or how many places excess deaths continues to work as an effective method - I'm fascinated by epidemics in "closed" countries like Iran and have looked at a lot of proxy data that the hedge-fund community has used for a long time to study China to try to get a picture (using normal-course satellite photography to monitor the activity of key infrastructure etc...) - but it's much harder than assessing China because the financial community generally ignores "closed" countries and therefore has few baselines.

Interestingly This is important to note for the US position as the US continues to have a somewhat porous southern boarder (how porous is really hard to know). 

14 If you exclude the brutally…

In reply to by sbond101

If you exclude the brutally mismanaged response in the tristate area the US did very well through the first wave. The question for evaluating the US response is what happens as the second wave plays out

The US is still in the first wave. A second wave is a concern, yes, but we're not there yet.

16 You are missing the point…

In reply to by sbond101

You are missing the point. The problem wasn't the initial handling of the Coronavirus in the US - that was pretty much on par with plenty of other countries (which is to say not great, but not terrible, either). The problem is that instead of clamping down and actually getting that first wave completely under control and then opening things up gradually, that part of the response was bungled in an astounding manner. The first wave was never quenched (unlike the European countries of comparison) before the re-opening was pushed through.

It's really very clear - and quite scary - if you look at the data for new cases. I've done the work for you and thrown together a chart with population-normalized new cases for the United States and 3 of those countries above the US in deaths/100k - Belgium, Spain, and Italy. The latter two also happening to have two of the premier soccer leagues - and both managing to finish the league after the first wave was quenched.

Chart: https://i.ibb.co/hH0jqPT/newdailycases.png (7-day-moving average)

Source for data: https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data

What reason is there to believe that anything is under control or that the response is in any way sensible right now? Governors suing mayors for trying to enforce controls, a federal government that tries to blame testing, the opposing political party, and deliberately sabotages attempts to get the outbreak under control.

20 I agree with you completely…

I agree with you completely. The initial outbreak was not effectively dealt with, but it was a novel event and one expects a learning curve which those states and Europe seem to have learned. It's now those areas that were not initially greatly effected that are really "screwing the pooch" and ignored what the science said and just reopened without considering where they were on the virus cycle.

23 "and deliberately sabotages…

"and deliberately sabotages attempts to get the outbreak under control."

That's whats encouraging.

Slowing the rate of new infections is helpful under 2 assumptions 1) that there will be an effective vaccine, 2) the effective vaccine will come before the policies to control the virus destroy the contry (3 is that there will be meaningfully higher-quality treatment, which is highly unlikely on a <5 year timescale). Both of these, especially 2 are highly questionable. If either is false the best thing to do is get as many people as possible sick as quickly as possible without exceeding healthcare capacity (NYC, without the rediculous nursing home policy that was responsable for many of the deaths). The fact that the tristate area which had seen a collapse in infections has not seen a second wave combined with current populations-level immunilogical research suggests that you can get to herd immunity shockingly quickly because of widespread pre-existing T-cell immunity developed toward other Corona viruses.

In short the my view is that its very likely that accelerating case-load now means it's more likely to be safe for football in the fall rather than less - and it's unclear whether that's a good or bad thing for the US (depending on the answers to questions 1 & 2). 



26 Letting the outbreak just…

Letting the outbreak just burn unchecked though the population is insane. Treatments are already better now than they were initially, but production of medicine is a real bottleneck. Additionally, as the number of cases skyrockets, the fatality is going to increase significantly as hospitals become overworked. Other procedures will get pushed, resulting in yet more suffering, including deaths.

Right now there is NOTHING that indicates any region is even close to herd immunity. At this point very little is known about immunity responses on the individual level, let alone what it would take to reach some semblance of herd immunity. Suggesting we gamble everything on next to zero evidence is insane.

Squash the spike first followed by rigorous contact tracing and gradual reopening is something we know works. Something we KNOW will limit deaths and significant harm - economic as well as physical.

27 Suggesting we gamble…

Suggesting we gamble everything on next to zero evidence is insane.

You don't have a choice in the matter. Any decision requires gambling on next to zero evidence. Indeed, refusing to make a decision at all is itself a decision.

30 +1

"You don't have a choice in the matter.... ....Indeed, refusing to make a decision at all is itself a decision." - I wish someone had told me this when I was younger in my personal life. It's such an important & basic insight in game-theory decision making.

34 Known Consequences

"I just gave you an example of a decision that didn't rely on next to zero evidence."

"Squash the spike first followed by rigorous contact tracing and gradual reopening is something we know works. Something we KNOW will limit deaths and significant harm - economic as well as physical."

No you really didn't - the country farthest down the path with that playbook after being widely seeded with the virus is China; 10 months on it still has millions of people in lockdown, the boarders closed and is seeing periodic outbreak that are internationally reported (let alone what is covered up). Throughout Europe you have two classes of country - those that prevented wide seeding of the first wave (e.g. Germany) and those that didn't (Italy, GB, Spain, Belgium). None of the countries in the second category are in a position where they are sufficiently "open" that there isn't 15%+ of there population forcibly unemployed and a looming debt crisis; and after that the evidence from China suggests that as they reopen there will be repeated outbreak that will force large-scale reclosers + hardened boarders in perpetuity if/until a vaccine is widely available. There is no end-game to the lockdown strategy. That takes us back to implicit assumption number 1) that there will be an effective vaccine, and that it will be before the measures required to maintain control of infection destroy the society in question - there is no significant evidence to suggest that will be the case.

With respect to herd immunity the current question is whether the evidence from NYC, Italy, & Spain, actually reflects heard immunity through t-cell reactivity. The evidence from GB suggests possibly yes, and that 40%-60% of people may have had t-cell reactivity to protect them from exposure to prior Corona virus strains creating a situation where herd immunity is possible through exposure of ~20% of the population (something that occurred in the above jurisdictions). The t-cell immunity theory also explains why those with previous COVID-19 exposure that test negative for antibodies are not observed to be reinfected by the virus (one of the most contraversial research questions being reported on now). 


35 Pretty much everything you…

Pretty much everything you claim in the above is either distorted or just plain wrong. I'm not going to bother explaining the science to you, since you are clearly determined to completely misread/misrepresent everything you read - including the articles you link to yourself.

"none of the countries in the second category [Italy, GB, Spain, Belgium] are in a position where they are sufficiently "open" that there isn't 15%+ of there population forcibly unemployed and a looming debt crisis; "

The economies of Italy and Spain were pretty bad before the pandemic. Great Brittain is in the midst of a Brexit disaster of their own making that has already cost jobs and will continue to do so.

Italy's unemployment rate dipped below 10% in 2019 for the first time in almost a decade. The official expected 2020 unemployment rate is 11.1%. The current numbers are a "fake" 7.8%, since only people who are actively looking for work count towards the unemployment rate (otherwise any "stay-at-home" parent would count, etc) and not as many people are looking for work due to the pandemic. That is up from 6.6% in May, but down from 9.8% from the months prior to the pandemic hitting the country. We won't know the full effects for sure, but the only reasonable numbers to use now are the official (ridiculously low) 7.8% or the official expected ("real") for 2020 of 11.1%. The latter is an increase of less than 1.5% compared to the previous year. Hardly the disaster you are painting it to be and nowhere near your claimed 15%.


Italy's factories and offices opened several months ago. Bars, restaurants, etc. opened with restrictions about a month ago. No massive increase in cases has been seen yet, despite the country opening up.

Looking at Spain, as noted the economy was already in a pretty bad state prior to the virus hitting the country. Unemployment had dipped below 14% in 2019 for the first time in a decade, but many regions were still above 20%. The official numbers are still very low (14.2% for June), but are expected to increase as stimulus packages run out. There are no official projections since right around the time the country was hit initially, but new projections are expected now that the EU stimulus plan was agreed to. That was only two days ago, so it will likely be a while before official numbers are out.

As for the virus in Spain, factories opened after just 2 weeks and offices have generally been open for several months. Pretty much everything else, including indoor restaurants and bars opening with strict limitations in late May as part of their "Phase 2" (outdoor serving at limited capacity was part of Phase 1). As of early June, Spain entered "Phase 3", which eased restrictions significantly. Most of the country has entered Phase 4 (of 4), which is considered the "new normal". As local outbreaks occur, phases are temporarily dialed back to ensure these stay under control. As you can see from the data and associated graphs I linked in my prior post, Spain has seen a larger increase in new cases per 1M than Italy (and Belgium), but still NOTHING like the initial wave and going by the data it sure looks like the controls are working - but time will tell.

Mask usage in the EU is actually fairly recent in most countries, so the effect from that will tell in the coming weeks, but overall it looks like the efforts are working and countries are successfully opening up - with some restrictions (distancing and masks) and with tougher measures for local areas that see a spike.

This is what we KNOW works. I'm not sure why you claim it doesn't.

25 Deaths

In reply to by sbond101

Also, around 80% to 90% of deaths globally are in people 70 or older.  It was made worse in places like NY where they let in infected patients to old age/senior homes and facilities making the situation much worse than it should have been and currently is.

5 I understand why people want…

I understand why people want football to return.  But we're talking about a sport where for close to a third of the positions on the field (all offensive and defensive lineman, at a minimum), being in a CDC COVID-19 high risk category is a requirement for the job.  It's not going to happen.

18 BMI is a statistical tool…

BMI is a statistical tool valid in comparing large, reasonably homogeneous population(s).

It should never, ever be used on individuals.

Any and all claims like "if you have a BMI outside such-and-such range you are such" should be given zero weight.

Use proper metric that actually measures the property or properties you are looking for. These metrics will vary greatly depending on what is being looked at. Examples include actual weight to size (skeletal stresses), body fat percentages, blood volume, liver size, etc.

If you don't happen to have the risk data for any reasonable metrics, you can't just take a bad metric and use is with individuals who are pretty much by definition exceptional.

19 I see what you're saying,…

I see what you're saying, but is BMI itself what causes death due to COVID?  I think it has more to do with the other issues that come with being overweight (high blood pressure, diabetes, reduced breathing capacity, etc.).  So I would think that even though NFL linemen are often overweight, they are still athletes who might(?) have those other issues under control.

There have been a handful of players in NBA, MLB and NFL who have tested positive for COVID.  Do we know if any of them have been strongly affected by the infections?  Were any hospitalized?  (I don't know these answers - I am genuinely asking.)

8 In other news, a facade…

In other news, a facade whose only purpose is to milk 4 extra games of revenue from season ticket-holders held hostage has been dissipated in the face of fan-less game requirements, revealing the preseason for the sham it always was.

9 +1

This is right - hopefully we can dispense with it permanently, God forbid another football player suffer a serious injury in a pre-season game.

37 I guess maybe I'm naive, but…

I guess maybe I'm naive, but I'm of the opinion that at least two games are probably advisable for roster construction purposes and/or getting in game shape.

Of course, no established NFL player should be forced to take part.

15 just cancel the season…

just cancel the season already.

(post was edited, original one speculated using a bubble format in safest NFL city which I had guessed was Kansas City)

21 Looks like Tennessee…

Looks like Tennessee currently has the lowest deaths per capita from COVID, of NFL states.  Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina aren't too far behind.

Missouri has the fewest cases per capita, but they are also one of the lowest-testing states.  If you limit to states that are testing at least 10% of the population, that would move Washington or Ohio into the lead for fewest cases

24 MLB

I really think the NFL season is going to depend a lot on what happens in MLB in the next 3 weeks.  NBA is doing the hub city and trying to keep everyone in a bubble, so that's not comparable.  MLB is going to be travelling city to city, using airports, using hotels, and contacting (in some way) with the public.  If MLB can pull it off, there is hope for the NFL.  If MLB cannot do it, I think NFL might have to postpone and maybe look at the hub city(s) model (which would really be hard to do).

17 This has seemed to me to be…

This has seemed to me to be an inevitability for quite a while, and I don't think it necessarily has much bearing on whether some or all of the regular season will be canceled. As noted above, the preseason has long been a sham to get more money out of season ticket holders. With no fans, there's very little upside (and a lot of downside) to staging these "games". For the regular season, TV money alone provides enough upside for the league to do everything it can to make it happen in some form. Mind you, the recent player tweet shows that they're off to a (mystifyingly, to me) terrible start.