Welcome to 2020, when even most of the news in the NFL revolves around COVID-19. In any event, let’s catch up on everything you need to know.
After much speculation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has officially canceled the first NFL preseason game of the season. The Cowboys and Steelers were scheduled to play the Hall of Fame Game on August 6, two days before this year’s enshrinement ceremony.
However, both have been canceled with the enshrinement ceremony being delayed until next year. It’s the first NFL event to be canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting on Time
Despite the cancelation of the Hall of Fame Game, the NFL is still expecting training camps to get underway on time. Most teams are requiring players to report to camp no later than July 28, which is just over a month away. However, what happens once training camp starts remains uncertain and is still under discussion.
The league is yet to finalize testing, screening, and treatment protocol, although the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills says the league will have “a very ambitious testing program.” It’s also possible that the preseason will be shortened from the usual four games, especially if there are no fans in attendance.
If You Stop Them, They Will Come
While it remains unclear if fans will be in attendance at NFL games this season, sources inside the NFL say the league is expecting fans to tailgate outside stadiums even if they’re not allowed to attend games. As long as there are no stay-at-home orders, fans are within their rights to visit the parking lots outside of stadiums.
That could allow teams to charge for parking space and allow fans to tailgate if they are socially distanced from other tailgate parties. Of course, teams could also choose to close their parking lots to prevent such gatherings. Like most things nowadays, this remains up in the air and only time will tell what will happen.
The New Lioness
Somewhat quietly, the Detroit Lions had a change of ownership this week. Martha Firestone Ford has stepped down as the team’s principal owner and passing the torch to her daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp.
Ford has spent the last six and a half years as the primary owner of the Lions. Hamp says she intends to have a hands-on role in the team and plans to consult her mother and three siblings, who are all vice-chairmen of the Lions, on any major decisions. She also says she intends to turn the Lions into a winning organization on the field.
While most people are hoping for football this fall, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins called it “nonessential” during a pandemic while speaking on CNN Thursday. Jenkins said that unlike other sports leagues, most notably the NBA, the NFL can’t quarantine players and staff, forcing people involved in the league to trust that everyone else is social distancing and not putting anyone at risk.
The league, at this point, is moving ahead with the season while Jenkins called football a “nonessential business.” Said Jenkins: “We don’t need to do it, and so the risk has to be really eliminated before we — before I — would feel comfortable with going back.”
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