For the first time since 1949, the NFL will not feature its signature all-star game. The league announced Wednesday the 2021 Pro Bowl will not take place. Instead, a to-be-determined slate of activities will commence. This will affect certain players’ resumes this season. Players, coaches and fans will still vote on this year’s Pro Bowlers; there just will not be a game and, thus, no brigade of Pro Bowl alternates will be required. This is not exactly a surprising development. The Pro Bowl cancelation comes in a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the NFL to cancel free agent visits, move the draft to a virtual setting, nix all in-person offseason activities and induce the league to call off its preseason slate.
Here is the latest from the coronavirus front:
- Despite the NBA earning immense praise for its bubble concept, the NFL remains against moving its playoffs to a bubble. A Tuesday report about the league considering a playoff bubble preceded denials, with NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills coming out against the idea. “We’re proceeding as is,” Sills said, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). “We don’t feel (a bubble) is the safest course of action for us.” Discussions of a bubble did not advance far this offseason, and the NFL — despite considerable adjustments to its schedule thus far because of COVID-19 positive tests in Tennessee and New England — will continue to try to play out its season as scheduled.
- The NFL chose to rearrange eight teams’ schedules on Sunday, amid changes that included postponing a second scheduled game — Broncos-Patriots — because of COVID-19. Rumors have emerged about the NFL implementing a Week 18 as a makeup date, and NFL executive VP Troy Vincent said that would be in play. Though, the league’s stance remains to play all 256 regular-season games in the usual 17-week timeframe, Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets. The Titans returning to action Tuesday prevented a team from having multiple games moved, thus delaying the first true threat to the schedule being completed in 17 weeks. Roger Goodell has stressed flexibility will be needed to complete the league’s 101st season, pointing to the commissioner being open to an in-case-of-emergency Week 18.
- New coronavirus protocols are on tap ahead of Week 6, and they could lead to more players missing games. All players who qualify as close contacts of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 must be isolated for at least five days, even if they are asymptomatic, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. All “high risk” close contacts of a player who tests positive after Wednesday would then need to miss at least one game. With the NFL opting against a bubble setup, this is another step the league is taking to try and prevent another outbreak.
- The Panthers entered the NFL’s intensive protocol after Falcons rookie defensive tackle Marlon Davidson‘s positive COVID test, the team announced. The Falcons, obviously, are going through the same protocols. No Panther has tested positive, and Davidson played only 17 snaps in the Week 5 Carolina-Atlanta game. The Vikings managed to avoid a postponement after their Week 3 game against the Titans. As of now, the Panthers do not appear at risk for having their Week 6 game postponed.