NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t think a locked-down playoff bubble is needed, but he believes in a modified approach to COVID-19 outbreaks during the playoffs.
Goodell told reporters on Wednesday that some form of enhanced protocols would be likely.
“It will take partnership and discipline to complete this season. I m confident we’ll be able to do it,” Goodell said, referencing teams, players and the NFL Players Association.
A popular option includes playoff teams sequestered in hotels the week of the games.
The NFL has not yet lost a 2020 regular-season game, though it has had to be creative. The Baltimore Ravens–Pittsburgh Steelers Week 12 game, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, was finally played on Wednesday.
There are five regular-season weeks remaining.
The NBA and NHL conducted playoffs within a strict bubble environment, with the NBA in Orlando and the NHL in Edmonton and Toronto.
“We don’t see the bubble, as most refer to it, in one location,” Goodell said. “We feel strongly that our protocols are working. We’re willing to adjust and adapt those protocols, take additional steps. But I don’t see us doing the bubble in the sense that the media focuses on it.”
Major League Baseball did not use a bubble system until the playoffs.
The NFL will remain nimble, with playoffs scheduled to begin Jan. 9-10.
“All options remain on the table and will be driven by what the data show us,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “We have adjusted our protocols nearly every week.”
Sills added that the league wouldn’t seek preferential treatment regarding vaccines, saying they must first go to the front-line health workers.
“We want to obviously work with authorities,” he said. “We never want to do anything that hinders the public health effort.”