When the idea of shortening the preseason to two games was offered up, I felt that it was a matter of “when” not “if” a cancellation of a notable NFL event was on the horizon.
And now, it’s happened:
The Cowboys and Steelers, who were scheduled to play in this year’s preseason opener, now are expected to play in the 2021 Hall of Fame game next summer, per sources. The HOF enshrinement ceremony also is expected to be held then.https://t.co/1dGl2DX2iq
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 25, 2020
The Pro Football Hall of Fame game that was scheduled for August 6 – featuring the Steelers and Cowboys – has been canceled.
Additionally, the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony that was set to take place two days later has been postponed until 2021. This is the third cancelation of the game in recent years. In 2011, the game was taken off the board because of the league’s lockout. And in 2016, unsafe field conditions canceled the game between the Packers and Colts.
I’ve done my part to keep a cautious level of optimism throughout the NFL’s offseason because cautious optimism is my default setting. As the rest of the sports world pressed pause, the NFL kept chugging along because it wasn’t in season. And in the grand scheme of things, I didn’t see proceeding with business as usual throughout an offseason as being problematic. HOWEVER, the cancelation of the Hall of Fame game provides a new perspective as we collectively march toward the pro football season.
This decision might not be an indicator that the NFL’s regular season could be impacted by COVID-19, but look around. Every other professional league has stopped in its tracks as it has attempted to get a grasp on the situation. Canceling the Hall of Fame Game is the NFL’s first foray into this field. How the league handles this could ultimately provide an inkling on how it plans to handle future situations. If the league is willing to cancel one exhibition game in August more than a month ahead of schedule, that they could do the same for preseason games later in the month. And if that’s the case, then it is easy to envision how things will look in August playing a role as to making decisions with September in mind. I don’t feel like it takes a great leap to consider that possibility.