CANBERRA: Tom Brady's first game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be September 13 in New Orleans as the NFL released its much-anticipated schedule, indicating it plans to start the season on time despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Brady will face Drew Brees and the Saints on the road three days after the Kansas City Chiefs open defence of their Super Bowl title against the Houston Texans in two can't-miss encounters revealed Thursday during the announcement of the league's full schedule.
NFL vice-president Troy Vincent said they are hoping to open on time despite the global outbreak, which has shut down the NHL, NBA and postponed MLB's opening day.
The 17-week regular season is due to conclude January 3, and the playoffs will culminate with the Super Bowl on February 7 in Tampa.
"The plan is to move forward as normal, play a full schedule until the medical community tells us otherwise," Vincent told the NFL Network.
"Our approach is to make sure we are responsible with a proper plan. We want to make sure we are following any guidelines as it pertains to governors' stay-at-home orders and policies. Let's make sure we are following those guidelines. We are preparing to play a full season."
The Los Angeles Rams will play their inaugural game in the new SoFi Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13. The stadium, located in the south-central Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, is also home to the Los Angeles Chargers, who kick off their home schedule against the Chiefs on September 20.
Brady joined Tampa Bay in March, signing a two-year, $50-million contract after an all-star career with the New England Patriots.
The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback will be reunited in Florida with one of his favourite targets, tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski retired in March 2019 after he had suffered about 20 concussion in his career, but came out of retirement to follow Brady to Tampa.