Can an NFL Game Be Cancelled Due to Weather?

Can an NFL Game Be Cancelled Due to Weather

The National Football League (NFL) is renowned for its thrilling matches, passionate fans, and the ability to adapt to challenging weather conditions. While the league prides itself on playing through adverse weather, extreme events or unplayable field conditions may necessitate the postponement or cancellation of an NFL game.

The NFL has a long history of playing through harsh weather conditions, from subzero temperatures to blizzards and driving rain. These resilient performances have earned the league a reputation for toughness and adaptability. However, there are instances where weather conditions pose an unacceptable risk to players, fans, or the integrity of the game, necessitating the cancellation or postponement of a match.

NFL’s Weather Policy

The NFL’s weather policy prioritizes the safety of all participants and attendees. The league takes a cautious approach to scheduling and enforcing weather-related game disruptions, considering various factors to determine the optimal course of action.

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Commitment to Playing Through Adversity: The NFL generally plays through challenging weather, demonstrating the players’ grit and the league’s resilience in the face of adverse conditions.

Risk Assessment: NFL officials closely monitor weather forecasts and consult with local authorities to assess potential risks posed by extreme weather events. They also consider factors like the severity of the storm, the proximity of the stadium, and the availability of alternative venues.

Regular Season vs. Preseason Distinction: In the regular season, where every game holds significant impact on team standings, the NFL prioritizes playing through adverse conditions unless safety concerns are paramount. However, preseason games are more flexible, and cancellations or postponements are more likely in extreme weather scenarios.

Weather Scenarios that May Prompt Game Cancellation or Postponement

The NFL takes decisive action to address weather conditions that threaten the safety of players, fans, or the integrity of the game. These scenarios include:

Extreme Weather Events: Hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards pose significant risks to both players and fans, warranting the postponement or cancellation of games in their immediate path.

Severe Thunderstorms: Lightning strikes pose a serious hazard to players and fans, requiring the suspension of play during storms. If the weather does not improve, the game may be postponed or canceled.

Unplayable Field Conditions: Excessive rain, snow, or ice can render the field unplayable, making it unsafe or impossible for the game to proceed. In such cases, the NFL may consider rescheduling or relocating the game to a venue with better field conditions.

Procedures for Addressing Weather-Related Game Disruptions

The NFL has established clear procedures to address weather-related game disruptions, ensuring that decisions are made swiftly and effectively to protect all stakeholders. These procedures include:

Communication and Coordination: NFL officials maintain open communication with teams, local authorities, and weather experts to gather information and assess the situation.

Evaluation of Alternative Options: The NFL evaluates various options, such as rescheduling, relocating, or canceling the game, considering the severity of the weather, the availability of alternative venues, and the potential impact on the schedule.

Prioritizing Player and Fan Safety: The safety of both players and fans is paramount in the decision-making process. If there is any doubt about the safety of the field, the players, or the fans, the NFL prioritizes protecting them by postponing or canceling the game.

Notable Examples of Weather-Related Game Cancellations

The NFL’s history includes a few instances of weather-related cancellations, highlighting the rare occurrence of such events. These notable examples illustrate the league’s commitment to safety and the importance of making informed decisions:

1935: Boston Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles: A driving snowstorm forced the cancellation of this game, marking the first-ever weather-related cancellation in NFL history.

1998: Detroit Lions vs. New York Jets: A severe snowstorm led to the postponement of this game, which was eventually played on a later date.

2017: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens: Hurricane Irma threatened the area, prompting the cancellation of this game.

These instances highlight the NFL’s proactive approach to weather-related disruptions, ensuring that the safety of all participants takes precedence over the game itself.


The NFL’s commitment to player and fan safety is unwavering, and the league carefully weighs the risks and benefits of playing through adverse weather conditions. While the NFL has a long history of resilience in the face of challenging weather, the league prioritizes the safety of all participants and attendees.

The NFL’s weather policy is a testament to its adaptability and its ability to navigate changing weather patterns in a responsible manner. The league’s investment in preventive measures and its proactive approach to addressing weather-related disruptions demonstrate its dedication to ensuring the integrity and safety of its matches.

As the NFL continues to evolve, the need for weather mitigation strategies will become increasingly important. The league’s commitment to playing through adverse conditions while prioritizing safety serves as an example for other sporting organizations and highlights the importance of adapting to the challenges posed by climate change.


How common are weather-related NFL game cancellations?

Weather-related cancellations are extremely rare in the NFL, typically occurring only in the face of extreme weather events that pose significant safety hazards. According to NFL records, there have been only 22 weather-related cancellations in the league’s history, and most of these occurred in preseason games.

What are the alternatives to canceling an NFL game due to weather?

Before resorting to cancellation, the NFL may consider rescheduling the game to a later date or relocating it to a neutral site with more favorable weather conditions. These options are more likely to be considered in regular-season games, where the outcome of a single match has a greater impact on the overall season.

How does the NFL ensure the safety of players and fans during adverse weather?

NFL officials closely monitor weather forecasts and maintain open communication with local authorities to assess potential risks. They also implement safety protocols, such as suspending play during lightning strikes, and employing advanced stadium technology to mitigate the effects of adverse weather.

What are some of the challenges faced by the NFL in adapting to changing weather patterns?

The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change pose a growing challenge for the NFL in terms of game scheduling and infrastructure preparedness. The league must invest in advanced weather forecasting tools, develop resilient stadium infrastructure, and devise contingency plans to ensure the safety of players, fans, and staff.

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