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NFL planning to start the season on time in 2020 (1:08)

Jeremy Fowler reports the latest on the NFL’s plans for the schedule this season, including a Sept. 10 opener. (1:08)

9:10 AM ET

  • Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff Writer

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    • ESPN staff writer
    • Previously a college football reporter for CBSSports.com
    • University of Florida graduate

The NFL isn’t altering its fall plans.

The league will release its 2020 schedule late next week without any major changes, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed — including a Sept. 10 opener, the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 and visions of fans in the stands.

“We plan to start on time,” McCarthy said.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported in mid-April that the league planned to release its schedule, based on a full season, by May 9. NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent told The Associated Press this week that the league is doing “reasonable and responsible planning” regarding health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

The league has evaluated contingency plans should the pandemic intensify, working in conjunction with the NFL Players Association and medical experts on a set of protocols.

One of those contingencies is delaying the season until mid-October, according to the Sports Business Journal. Empty stadiums and no bye weeks have long been discussed.

One option not on the table, a source told ESPN, is gathering players at a centralized location to execute a season. The NBA and Major League Baseball have discussed playing at a neutral site such as Walt Disney World, Las Vegas or Arizona, but the NFL doesn’t plan to do that.

The NFL schedule is not expected to include an influx of Saturday games, despite uncertainty about whether college football can start its season on time.

The league is evaluating when players can reenter team facilities. The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to keep buildings closed until every state in which a team resides lifts its stay-at-home mandate. Teams are prepared to conduct offseason workouts and June minicamps virtually.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not accept a salary during the pandemic. The league raised more than $100 million for coronavirus relief during the NFL draft.

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