Right now, the NFL isn’t just socially distancing, they’re also forced to stay away from their fans, for the time being. While there remains hope that things will be able to run in time for training camp, it’s far too early to determine whether or not anybody will be able to attend those practices and be a part of the team experience, which has become such a crucial event for many fans.
It’s also a huge part of our offseason coverage, with Alex Kozora, Tim Rice, and others attending and writing up reports, providing crucial images, and generally vastly enriching the fan experience that many don’t get to see.
Unfortunately, we have to accept the possibility that this may be beyond the league’s capability to swing this year. Hopefully it will be possible. Hopefully things look a lot better a couple months from now. But the possibility is a reality. We don’t even know if fans will be able to attend games.
What we do know, and what the team knows, is that the fans will still be there, even if they can’t be physically present. And that is something the players really understand and value, as Minkah Fitzpatrick recently said when asked if he has a message to the fans.
We appreciate all the love and support that they show us, previously and in the future. I know that whether there’s no fans in the stadium or whether it’s gonna be full-fledged, we’re gonna have unwavering support. It’s greatly appreciated, and it’s gonna be reflected in the way that we play. We give our best for the fans. We give our best for our families and ourselves. No matter what the case is, whether it’s nobody in the stands or a full stadium, we’re gonna give our best effort and make sure you guys are entertained and having a good time.
Fitzpatrick is only heading into his third season and has never experienced an offseason or training camp with the Steelers. But he was on-hand for the Los Angeles game last year when the crowd was cheering for Pittsburgh rather than the Chargers.
He already knows what Steeler Nation is all about, and what they can do. They’re already all over the country, even all over the world, even if they can’t all be in the stadium cheering them on—or booing them, as the case may be.
If there are no fans during the season, I’m sure the NFL will work something out. Maybe something similar to the NFL Draft, where they display videos of fans’ reactions, all grouped into one mass. It might be the only way the fans and the team could be together in one place at the same time this Fall.