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story.lead_photo.caption Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he is optimistic the NFL will play a full slate of regular-season games this season. (AP/Brian Blanco)

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank shared his thoughts on how the coronavirus could affect the NFL season with Peter King in King's weekly Football Morning In America online column Monday.

Blank, who normally would have been at the NFL's owners meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., this week, believes the NFL is going to be fine, with some adjustments.

"I don't mean it won't be changed," Blank said. "It is being changed now. How it'll impact things like training camp, sooner than that, the OTAs. ... Training camps will probably affected in some way. And of course, your point about the stadiums, with 50,000 to 70,000 people, whatever it may be. I think it's just too early to tell. Of course we have to be able to provide a safe environment for fans. That's the most critical thing."

Here's what he had to stay about a 16-game regular season: "If I had to speculate now, and I use the word 'speculate' because that's really all it is, I would say yes. Only because it's so far away from where we are today. I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature. No fan attendance. Things like that.

"We may have fewer preseason games, which probably wouldn't be the end of the world. But I think by September, my hope is by the time the regular season starts, that we'll be able to bring people together in some form or fashion in a safe manner and play.

"I do think we need football now. It's hard to turn on any device you have today, almost any site, television, PCs, laptops, phones -- without the first thing popping up being something on the virus.

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"And that's appropriate. However, I also think that people want a diversion. People want to be optimistic. People want to think about things that are really good times for themselves and their families and their loved ones and their communities. I think to have that kind of hope and aspiration mixed into your daily life is important."

Blank, who likes to take his walks, is making some adjustments.

"I usually walk and exercise a lot under any circumstances," Blank said. "But now I know it's important to exercise the body and calm the mind. I told our associates the other day you've got to find ways to calm your mind.

"Whether it be thinking, meditation, reading, prayer, slower breathing, whatever it may be, do something. Because it's easy under these conditions to have your mind racing all over the place. It's important to be able to keep your body moving, keep it functioning, keep it active and yet have a calm mind at the same time."

Sports on 03/31/2020

Print Headline: NFL owner insists on safe environment for fans


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