This is a big one. When will the NFL return to some semblance of normalcy, with relaxed protocols and stadiums filled with fans? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that the league isn't going to "jump the line" and advocate for player vaccinations before others in their distribution category get them. "It's too early to say whether vaccines will be part of the solution," Goodell said. "We expect that they will. We hope that much of our society will be vaccinated by the summer because it's in the best interest of our country and the health of our people. So, we'll adapt and if our protocols have to adapt again we will."
Unclear too is when fans can return to stadiums in large numbers. A total of 1.2 million spectators attended games during the 2020 season, with only some teams allowing fans to watch live in socially-distanced arrangements. According to the league, there were no instances of those situations leading to outbreaks. "We're proud of that," Goodell said, "and we're going to build on that."
Plenty of questions remain. Will players still be tested for the coronavirus on a daily basis? Will everyone still be outfitted with devices to collect proximity data? Will coaches still be fined or otherwise punished for improper use of face coverings?
"I don't know when normal is going to occur again, and I don't know if normal ever will again," Goodell said. "I don't know if anybody here can do that. I know this — we have learned to operate in a very difficult environment, we have found solutions, and will do it again. And that's hard, that's what we believe is a lesson for us here is the relationships. I think one of the most impressive things to me and meaningful."