The annual Hall of Fame Game is less than seven weeks away and while the Pro Football Hall of Fame remains optimistic it will be played, not all feel similarly.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward is scheduled to unofficially open the football season against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 6. But he’s uncertain that will actually be how it plays out given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s just my point of view,” Heyward said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But I think the Hall of Fame Game is probably out. We talk so much about safety. Why would we want to expose two teams to an extra game a week early? Plus, I think there is a rule that says you need 47 days of activity before you get to the first game.”
“We’ll see. I’d say I’m pretty pessimistic.”
As of Saturday, there are 47 days until the game in Canton, Ohio. Teams only began partially re-opening facilities within local regulations in mid-May and have not held mini camps. There’s also reports the league could drop the number of preseason games from four to two.
So far there’s no indication the game will not be played, though Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said earlier in the week it’s “highly unlikely” the game will be played with its 20,000-person crowds. That alone might put the game in jeopardy, since it’s meant as a celebration of the return of football and the annual Hall of Fame class.
The NFL has been trudging toward the season as planned, even as coaches and players question certain tactics. Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay questioned the protocols being put in place to have a season where players are inches from each other for hours at a time.
“I mean we’re going to social distance but we play football? Hey, this is really hard for me to understand all this. I don’t want to be. ... I don’t get it. I really don’t.”
Teams are also preparing for an unconventional season with fans still attending games, even if Dr. Anthony Fauci believes it difficult to hold the NFL season at all. The Miami Dolphins shared plans of social distancing at games weeks ago. The New England Patriots are allowing fans at high risk of contracting the disease to skip the season entirely, while holding onto their season tickets for 2021-22.
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