NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expects 2020 season will be "on time" but it may be "different"

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects the league's 2020 season will be "on time," despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic delaying and canceling other sporting events. Goodell also said he was "very happy" with how Thursday night's first-round draft went, which he hosted from his basement for the first-ever virtual broadcast of the event.

"We know that we're dealing with a different environment. And obviously, public safety will be number one on our mind, but we believe that we've been able to make modifications, the draft was a great example" Goodell said on "CBS This Morning" Friday. "We're able to make changes to the way we operate, to do it in the environment that we're in, and do it that our fan and our participants' safety is number one." 

Goodell said he expected 2020 season schedule will be out within two to three weeks, and the league is consulting with medical experts on "safety guidelines" on its summer pre-season training.

"I think, you know, right now our job is to be prepared for the season. That means keeping our football schedule as best we can — obviously with modifications to make sure we're doing it safely," he said. "But we're going to be prepared and ready, and we're planning on playing this fall even though it may be different."

Despite concerns over COVID-19 cases still rising in the summer, Goodell acknowledged the uncertainty of the pandemic's shifting nature.

"I don't think any of us know what it's going to be three months from now or two months from now," he said

One item the commissioner specified was on the table during these talks was widespread testing. So far, two players and one coach have tested positive for COVID-19.

"I was a on a call yesterday with Governor Cuomo, and making sure that he understood some of the priorities for us and for businesses coming back, and we want to make sure that testing is a big part of that because I think it is an important element of the protocols that we're going to want to implement," he said. 

Asked if he saw the 2020 season being played with the usual cheering fans absent from stadiums, Goodell refused to speculate. 

"I think, you know, right now our job is to be prepared for the season. That means keeping our football schedule as best we can — obviously with modifications to make sure we're doing it safely," he said.

Goodell and the heads of other professional sports leagues had a conference call with President Trump on April 4.

"I think he recognizes the importance of sports to our society," he said.

As to Thursday night's virtual draft, when the Cincinnati Bengals scored LSU star quarterback Joe Burrow, Goodell said he had a "great time."

"I think it was an opportunity for us to do it differently, and to make sure that we engaged with our fans, engaged with our players that were being drafted, and make sure that we gave everyone a reason to come together," he said. 

"And most importantly, we were able to raise a lot of money last night."

The money they raised was part of the NFL's "Draft-a-Thon," a virtual fundraiser aimed at benefitting COVID-19 relief efforts and paying tribute to health care workers and other front line workers. The league has asked fans and other supporters to donate throughout the three days of the draft, and has already raised almost $4 million.