The upcoming NFL season has had its first coronavirus casualty, as it cancels the HOF ceremony. Since COVID-19 hit the US and knocked out all major sports, the NFL has been adamant that its season would be able to start without any problems or delays. Since March, there has been no variation of the upcoming schedule and nothing was going to stand in the way of football.
However, that all changed yesterday, and football fans may need to keep an open mind about the upcoming season. The NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are striking the Hall of Fame game and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony that were coming up this August.
COVID-19 Sets Its Sights On American Football
The Hall of Fame (HoF) game and the HoF enshrinement ceremony were planned for August 6 and 8, respectively. The Dallas Cowboys were set to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that was going to be seen as proof that the NFL was able to keep to its schedule, but things have now gotten complicated. With the global pandemic not willing to release its grip yet, the NFL HoF game has been cancelled and will now be postponed for an entire year, and will now be held between the same two teams on August 5, 2021.
NFL Cancels HoF Ceremony And Creates Two For One
As far as the NFL HoF ceremonies go, it was determined that the events would be cancelled and have to wait, instead of being held remotely. The primary reason was to be able to provide the same environment for the inductees that has been seen in previous years, as a remote event would not have allowed them to receive the attention they deserve. According to David Baker, the president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “The health and safety of our Hall of Famers, fans and volunteers who make Enshrinement Week so special remains our top priority. The Hall will honor the Centennial Class of 2020 next August, along with what promises to be an equally spectacular Class of 2021, as part of a multi-day celebration of football with an atmosphere that will deliver for fans ‘Twice the Fun in ’21.'”
So, as the NFL cancels the HoF ceremonies this year, they will now hold it for two years at one time next year. To be included for the class of 2020 are former players Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James and Troy Polamalu, as well as former coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson. Additionally, NFL Films co-founder Steve Sabol, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NY Giants executive George Young are going to be enshrined.
Tagliabue took the change in stride, understanding the need to protect everyone from possible exposure to the coronavirus. He told the Associated Press, “The delay is obviously disappointing but completely understandable. It’s always a great weekend especially for football fans and family, coaches, colleagues who’ve been critical in our successes. But a big part of the weekend is meeting, greeting, photos and signing autographs for the thousands of fans. Not something that I’d want to do in the coronavirus environment.”
The NFL Continues Pushing Ahead
It’s too early for football fans to turn pessimistic over potential delays to the upcoming season; however, it is something that has to keep in mind. The league is still convinced it won’t have any (more) issues, and is optimistic that it will see its regular-season kickoff in September as expected. With the other three major sports organizations getting ready to start up in July, the NFL doesn’t want to miss out on the fun.
The NFL is also convinced that it will be allowed to have fans in the stands. Despite public opposition expressed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the VP of communications for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Rich Desrosiers, told CBSSports.com, “One of the things we’re hoping for and that we’re willing to do is to almost be the test case for the NFL. Give us the green light and we’ll show folks how it can be done safely for fans, safely for participants and safely for the employees here. We feel very positive about the prospects of this happening in early August.”