Even as the coronavirus continued to ravage American communities, the N.F.L. last week released a full schedule of games that on the surface included no obvious backup plan in case the pandemic prevents the season from starting on Sept. 10.
But the odds that the league will be able to keep to its schedule are decreasing by the day. Before games can be played, teams must first open their offices and training facilities, which have been shut since mid-March, then hold training camps, which are to begin in mid-July.
To keep what they call “competitive equity,” league executives say teams can reopen their offices and training facilities only when it is safe for every team to do so. The N.F.L. is also requiring its teams, scattered across two dozen states, to follow local and state guidelines, including frequent testing and limits on the size of gatherings, to determine when it will be safe enough for coaches, staff and players to return.