Many things remain uncertain for later in the year thanks to the pandemic. One thing that is very clear is that, under no circumstances will there be a ‘virtual’ enshrinement ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That was the message earlier this month from David Baker, who is the director of the Hall.
As he told the USA Today, the Hall values the keeping of the traditions of the ceremony, which includes the gathering of all the prior alumni, the dinner prior to the enshrinement, and of course, the first donning of the gold jacket itself. Not to mention the revealing of the bust to the public for the first time.
That said, while this plan is not being considered, Baker did say that they have about five alternatives that are being discussed, one of which would be to simply move the enshrinement weekend to later in August. Or they could hold the enshrinement at the same time that the Centennial selections go in in September. Another possibility: do what the MLB has done, and enshrine two classes next year.
It’s one thing to postpone the enshrinement ceremony, and another as it concerns the Hall of Fame game, however. And, as you might be aware, the Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to play the Dallas Cowboys in that game. Both storied franchises are inducting new members this year, including head coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson.
If the Hall of Fame game itself is affected, then it could simply be cancelled and not made up. It is an inessential exhibition game, after all, at a time during which the league is trying desperately to cut back on the number of preseason games that are played as it is (in exchange for more regular season games, of course).
It has happened before. A year after Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham essentially had his career ended twisting up his knee trying to make a tackle in the Hall of Fame game in 2015, the league was forced to cancel a scheduled game between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts because the playing field was deemed unsafe.
Frankly, I find it hard to imagine that, if the season is impacted at all by the coronavirus, there will be a Hall of Fame game. The preseason would be the first thing to go long before the regular season is touched, and the Hall of Fame game is already an extra game that only two teams are involved in.
The enshrinement ceremony is, of course, a very different matter, and a very special, significant occasion. Whenever it happens, it will happen, even if it has to wait until next year. But here’s to hoping that everything remains on schedule.