The sports landscape has been turned upside down this year due to COVID-19. After the NFL was forced to hold the NFL Draft remotely and teams have yet to hold a practice, the first football game of 2020 has officially been canceled.
Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the NFL has decided to cancel the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the game serving as the opener to the NFL’s preseason over the years, it’s another in a long list of sports events to get the ax.
Though preseason games don’t serve the same purpose they did years ago, they still hold an essential place for evaluators, down roster guys, and projected practice squad members. While the starters may not see a lot of snaps in the preseason, those extra snaps can mean the difference between getting on the active roster, being placed on the practice squad, or finding a new job for a lot of players on NFL rosters.
Because teams have been unable to practice in the wake of COVID-19, there will likely be a heavier emphasis placed on training camp practices and the preseason games in preparation for the 2020 season.
As the number of positive COVID-19 cases has set record daily highs in recent days and the number of hospitalizations is growing, it’s becoming more of a possibility that this will affect the NFL’s regular season.
The Dallas Cowboys and other teams around the league have had players test positive. It was reported last week that Ezekiel Elliott tested positive for COVID-19. And though he’s in the younger demographic that isn’t typically hospitalized, he talked about some of the symptoms he’s been experiencing.
The Hall of Fame Game took on more importance for the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their fans this year with head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher receiving induction this year. Both men led their respective franchises to Super Bowl victories, and both serve as analysts for Sunday studio shows. Johnson on Fox and Cowher on CBS. Their induction ceremonies will be postponed to a later date.
While professional sports leagues like Major League Baseball and the NBA are moving forward with plans to resume their season, there’s still a possibility that cancellations occur in those sports. Canceling a game that is five weeks away reveals the NFL’s concern with the growing numbers across the nation. The longer this goes on, the higher chance it has at impacting the regular season.