At the dawn of a season of uncertainty, the NFL must accept that flexibility is mandatory.
This could extend to travel and some long-standing league policies.
Via Peter King of NBC’s Football morning in america, a number of teams are wondering if they can adjust their flight schedules to leave their city on match day.
As things stand, the rules of the league require teams to fly the day before a match, to ensure that the weather or other delays do not jeopardize a match. But if teams believe they are more at risk by adding a layer of supported meals and hotel stays and bus trips to their socially distant lives, it might be wise to get around this rule.
Obviously, for longer trips, this would not make sense, but for flights of less than two hours, this seems reasonable. And teams with their own planes (like the Patriots) could do it easily.
Using the Ravens calendar as an example, they could conspicuously leave the same day for seven of their eight road games.
They can already avoid boarding a plane from September 21 to November 7 because they have three home games, one goodbye and two quick trips. These trips are 31 miles from Washington and 106 miles from Philadelphia, making them bus trips to start.
But they have five car trips in the last nine weeks of the season, the longest flight of which is to Indianapolis (82 minutes), with New England (52 minutes), Pittsburgh (38 minutes), Cleveland (54 minutes), and Cincinnati (71 minutes).
Only their second week trip to Houston would last more than an hour and a half in the air, so the Ravens could easily justify an early wake-up call and a quick flight the morning of a game. Especially since three of these trips are night matches (in New England, Pittsburgh and Cleveland), the travel component could be easily managed.
Sure, the weather at the end of the year could still complicate that, but that’s the kind of thing that could be expected. It remains to be seen whether the league is willing to allow it, but reducing overnight stays in strange environments seems like a smart option.