It was just announced a short time ago that the NFL is officially cancelling the 2020 Hall of Fame game, which was set to take place during Hall of Fame weekend on August 6 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. Adam Schefter also reports that the enshrinement ceremony is being postponed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the first significant disruption of the NFL calendar, though it wasn’t totally unexpected. It had long been speculated that the Hall of Fame game could be on shaky ground, coming so soon. Because it was cancelled, however, that now means that the Steelers’ training camp report date will be July 28, rather than July 22.
Though Ohio is not one of the current hotspots, the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge in many areas of the country, with yesterday’s new case total hitting 38,000, the second-highest total since the pandemic began, now with over 124,000 dead, and nearly 1.3 million active cases.
While there is yet no word on the state of the rest of the preseason, there has been much talk about the possibility that one or two games would be eliminated in exchange for a ‘ramp-up’ period of practice. As of now, training camp report dates remain scheduled to begin at the end of July.
Schefter writes that with the move, the Steelers and Cowboys are now expected to participate in the Hall of Fame game in 2021. The enshrinement ceremony is also scheduled to be postponed until next year as well.
Pittsburgh was slated to have three new members enter the Hall of Fame, including safety Troy Polamalu as a first-ballot modern candidate. Former head coach Bill Cowher and safety Donnie Shell, who was part of the four championships in the 1970s, were also being inducted as part of the Centennial Slate of the 100th anniversary class, though Shell was going to be enshrined at a later date.
This is unfortunate but not unsurprising news. The Hall of Fame game has been cancelled before due simply to the condition of the field. It is an entirely superfluous exhibition game that means little to anybody except perhaps the 89th and 90th players on the roster. And this year, we may see teams carry fewer than 90 players anyway.
Later today, the NFL and NFLPA are scheduled to hold a conference to discuss a number of key issues shaping the next several months, including plans to combat the coronavirus within their own game, inside of stadiums and on the field, and whether or not fans can attend games. Eliminating half of the preseason could buy them a couple more weeks’ clearance in worrying about some of these issues.