Over the past few weeks, the NFL has discussed the possibility of shortening the preseason this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and although it's currently unknown how many games might be canceled, it appears one of them has already gotten the ax.
The NFL decided to cancel the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and Steelers, which was scheduled to be played on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio. Ohio governor Mike DeWine didn't sound optimistic about the game happening when he was asked about it last week. The league has also decided to postpone the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was supposed to happen on Aug. 8.
The enshrinement ceremony, which was going to include the induction of candidates like Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson and Troy Polamalu will now take place on August 5, 2021 -- kicking off the Hall of Fame weekend festivities. The Cowboys and Steelers are also expected to be the two teams playing in the Hall of Fame game when it returns next year.
The 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend will take place August 5-9, 2021. The enshrinement for the Centennial Class of 2020 is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 and the enshrinement for the Class of 2021 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. With two separate enshrinement ceremonies, there will be two separate ticket sales.
"The health and safety of our Hall of Famers, fans and volunteers who make Enshrinement Week so special remains our top priority," said David Baker, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "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.'"
Fans may retain their tickets for the rescheduled Hall of Fame Game and/or enshrinement ceremony honoring the 2020 Centennial Class or they can apply for a refund, per the Pro Football Hall of Fame website. Fans who hold their tickets also will receive a 25% discount on Hall of Fame merchandise purchased before March 31, 2021 and an opportunity to upgrade seat locations (if available).
Fans who retain their tickets for the Centennial Class of 2020 enshrinement may keep those seats and be part of the presale of tickets for the Class of 2021 enshrinement.
The Steelers and Cowboys are two of at least 10 teams that have had at least one player test positive for COVID-19 this offseason.
The league's decision to cancel the game is a big one, and that's because it marks the first time this year that the NFL has had to cancel anything due to the pandemic. For the past three months, it's been as close as possible to business as normal for the NFL, which has held free agency and its draft. Before Thursday, the only big change the NFL had really made was the decision to pull the draft out of Vegas in order to hold it virtually.
As far as the rest of the NFL's preseason goes, the league has been talking about the possibility of shortening things down from four games to two games, although nothing has officially been decided yet. As of right now, training camp is expected to still happen as scheduled. The current plan is for players to arrive for camp on July 28.
Despite the cancellation of the Hall of Fame game, the NFL is still reportedly optimistic that the 2020 season will be able to start on time. The league is still finalizing its protocols for the year, and one thing that's almost certainly going to happen is a lot of testing. NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer announced on June 16 that players will likely be tested up to three times per week to prevent the spread of the virus.
The NFLPA has been doing everything in its power to prevent the spread of the virus amongst players. Over the weekend, the player's association issued an advisory asking players to stop working out together. With the country now dealing with an uptick in cases and with training camp around the corner, the NFL has decided to not take any chances with the virus.