The NFL announced Monday evening that it has officially canceled its entire preseason schedule as the league prepares for the start of training camp.
The announcement comes after the league and players reached an agreement late last week on health and safety procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them, players have the ability to opt out of the upcoming season due to coronavirus concerns.
Unlike the NBA, MLS and NHL, the NFL currently plans on games in home venues.
As the aforementioned leagues have kept players in so-called “bubbles,” the MLB has been holding games in home stadiums. But on Monday, several MLB contests were called off after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases were reported among Miami Marlins players. It’s unclear how many games will be forced to be suspended, but guidelines call for those who come in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients to quarantine for 14 days. MLB has not said if the rest of the Marlins roster will be forced to sit out for two weeks.
“In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, we have navigated the time carefully, thoughtfully and in partnership with the NFL Players Association with a shared goal of playing a healthy and complete 2020 season,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “This process has not been easy -- COVID-19 will continue to present a major challenge to nearly every area of American life. Football is no exception.”
The preseason generally consists of four games per team, which span through the month of August. While the games are largely unimportant for teams as a whole, they serve as a proving ground for players fighting for roster spots..