Coaches have officially returned to team facilities as the NFL slowly but surely prepares for a regular season schedule with no changes. With the kickoff set to take place on Thursday, September 10th, professional football isn’t in such a hurry for normalcy to return like baseball and basketball are. Despite missing some phases of offseason practices, beginning training camp on time should be more than fine for the league.
We’ve heard multiple statements that the NFL doesn’t intend to push back the season, despite uncertainty around stadium attendance likely being limited if not prohibited. September is a long way off, after all.
However, the league hasn’t said a word about preseason. Last week, teams were informed they wouldn’t be allowed to hold training camp in other cities like the Dallas Cowboys do in Oxnard every year. Joint practices have also been removed from this year’s plans.
This week, veteran minicamps would be taking place, but COVID-19 has kept that from happening, too. With players possibly returning to the practice field until training camp, adjustments are bound to be made, including an early arrival from players in order to be tested and begin conditioning workouts.
Yet the league hasn’t said a word about preseason. Will it be shortened, canceled, or kept the same?
“Another idea I’d heard was leaving the report dates as they are but canceling the first week of preseason games to reduce risk of soft-tissue injuries as players work their way back into shape, and limit August travel.” Albert Breer on preseason games.
Canceling games seems like a logical move, but the NFL is set to lose money without fans in the stands, so shortening the preseason might not be their first choice. I wouldn’t expect them to do so.
Now, the Hall of Fame game is a different story. Played every year in Canton, Ohio, this game’s fun is not on the field but rather off of it. Players being celebrated for their greatness and being immortalized. Sons asking fathers who the guy on the screen is and sharing stories.
No one tunes in for the actual game that’s to be played mostly by third-string players. No, they tune in for 1) the first football game in a long time, and 2) watch historic players be inducted to the Hall.
Without fans and without crowded events, will that even be possible? In the year Derek Jeter is making the Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball has already pushed its ceremony to 2021. Shouldn’t the NFL do the same?
An NFL season is necessary, preseason is too. But a Hall of Fame game? I want to watch Jimmy Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Bill Cowher, and Cliff Harris be inducted and the Dallas Cowboys battle it out with the Pittsburgh Steelers in a meaningless game. Sure, I want to watch that. But is it really necessary?
It doesn’t seem like it’s worth the trouble.