The 2040 NFL season will see the kickoff of an all-avatar game. Twenty-two players (eleven on each side) will not be suiting up but setting up from some formatted room inside a luxury stadium, with only their team jersey, headset and controller. Their avatars will take the field as life-like holograms that everyone in the stadium will be able to see through their e-contacts.
The NFL is no longer contained to just the United States, but rather a forty-team league of the most elite online players, and it stretches across the world from Vancouver to Sydney.
Players will more than likely move to different countries if they are drafted to them as a means of outreach for corporations, players, and fans. But between Hyperloops and rocket flights, travel time will be cut down to roughly 90% of the time it used to take, so it is feasible that a player may spend Monday through Friday in Vancouver or Chicago, then take a flight to Shanghai to meet and greet fans prior to the game.
There will be a lot less space needed for everything going on/off the field, so many stadiums' capacity will grow by about 20,000.
Games are a lot shorter due to the lack of necessity for advertising; you will see augmented reality ads in between whistles. Stoppages between quarters maybe longer, though, to allow for food ordering and washroom breaks (the only reason you will probably be getting out of your seat).
Lastly, the age limit for professional players will be as low as fifteen, since there is no physicality needed in the sport. While a lot of their revenue will come from playing the actual game with their avatar, they will more than likely be using social media platforms on a regular basis on something similar to Tiktok or similar technology.