The NFL has its first coronavirus-related cancellation.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this year’s Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, originally scheduled for Aug. 6, is being canceled, and the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is being postponed. Both changes have reportedly been made due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Schefter reported that the Cowboys and Steelers will play in the 2021 HOF Game. The enshrinement of the 2020 Hall of Fame class will take place in 2021, but a new date has not been announced.
Rich Desrosiers, vice president of communications for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was optimistic that fans could be in the stands as recently as mid-June.
"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," Desrosiers told CBSSports.com. "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."
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine threw cold water on that optimism a few days later.
"As much as I hate to say this, because we've all been looking forward to that and I know how much it means to the Canton area and the Stark County area and really across the country, it's a great, great event that we've been looking forward to, [but ] having a crowd that size is highly unlikely," DeWine said.
According to CBSSports.com, the Hall of Fame sold over 20,000 game tickets within just a half hour of going on sale.
Since the Hall of Fame game typically kicks off the preseason, the Cowboys and Steelers were supposed to report to training camp on July 22, six days earlier than all the other teams. According to Schefter, their reporting date will likely be pushed back July 28, when all other teams are reporting.
Nearly four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has kept its schedule relatively cancellation-free. Free agency, offseason workouts, meetings and conference calls have all been done virtually, as was the entire NFL draft. But every passing day brings us closer to both preseason games and actual real games. With COVID-19 cases surging in numerous states, this is probably not the last cancellation we’ll see.
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