After weeks of speculation, the NFL has officially cut the 2020 preseason in half, according to multiple reports.
2020 preseason has been cut in half, per source. Post coming at PFT.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 1, 2020
Each team will now play just two exhibition games this year, with the league eliminating Week 1 and 4 of the original schedule.
First, the decision cuts down on travel that teams would have to make for their second road contest. This is most likely related to fears of excessive travel leading to COVID-19 exposure.
Eliminating half of the slate also provides teams more time to prepare for the regular season, considering clubs were unable to participate in on-field work in-person this offseason.
With regards to the Steelers, they will still face the New Orleans Saints at home on Aug. 23 and travel to the New York Jets on Aug. 28, but will no longer host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 14 or visit the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 3.
Pittsburgh already saw one of their games eliminated when their Hall of Fame game matchup against the Cowboys was cancelled last week.
The NFL is expected to make an official announcement on the shortening of the 2020 preseason Thursday, with NFLPA approval still pending.
XFL Suspends All Operations, 2021 Return Uncertain
The XFL has suspended all operations and laid off nearly all of its employees with no immediate plans to return in 2021, according to a report by Kevin Seifert and Field Yates of ESPN.
NEWS: on a call today with COO Jeffery Pollock, XFL employees were just informed that the league is suspending operations and all employees have been laid off. Another sport impacted further by the current COVID-19 crisis.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 10, 2020
Just a handful of league executive remain employed following the league’s mass layoffs.
According NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, league employees will be paid through Sunday, with uncertainty regarding a potential restart in the future.
Employees are being paid through Sunday. After that, could be curtains. There was no discussion of when operations could restart, source says. https://t.co/nfaRuVPngC— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 10, 2020
The league’s inaugural season was cancelled last month after just five games amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan at that point was to return next season.
The Steelers have made five XFL signings in offensive tackle Jardon Jones, safety Tyree Kinnel, long snapper/linebacker Christian Kuntz and defensive ends Dewayne Hendrix and Cavon Walker. Walker led the XFL with 4.5 sacks for the New York Guardians. Hendrix and Kuntz played their college ball at Pitt and Duquesne, respectively.
Steelers Release Hall of Fame Enshrinement Details
The Steelers have released details regarding Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, with three members of the organization set to be inducted this year.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will host two separate enshrinement weeks for the Modera-Era and Centennial classes. Safety Troy Polamalu and head coach Bill Cowher will be inducted during the traditional Enshrinement Week on Saturday, August 8th, while safety Donnie Shell will go in as a part of the Centennial Celebration on Friday, September 18th.
They will both take place at Tom Benson Stadium.
In addition to the enshrinement ceremony, the Hall of Fame Game will take place on Thursday, August 6th, and the Concert for Legends will be held on Sunday, August 9th. The nationally televised Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner will be on Friday, August 7th, while the Enshrinees Roundtable will also be on Sunday.
Tickets for the Enshrinement Ceremony will go on sale Wednesday, February 26th at 10:00 AM. Prices for ticket packages range from $29 to $175. Teams participating and tickets for the Hall of Fame Game are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Ticket information and pricing for the Centennial Celebration have not yet been released at this time.
Bill Cowher Selected to Pro Football Hall of Fame
Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher has been elected to be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Cowher, a Crafton, Pa., native who served as Steelers head coach from 1992-2006, finished his coaching career with a 161-99-1 record. He guided the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL and won NFL Coach of the Year Awards in 1992 (Associated Press and Sporting News) and 2004 (Sporting News).
As head coach, his teams won the AFC two times, made it to six AFC Championships, won the AFC Central or North Division eight times and made the postseason 10 times.
He was selected as part of the Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class, an extra large class to represent the NFL’s 100th season. A blue-ribbon panel of comprised of Hall of Fame selectors, inductees, coaches, football executives and historians made the selection.
The announcement of Cowher’s section was made live during his CBS broadcast of the Tennessee Titans-Baltimore Ravens Divisional playoff game.
“This feels like I did when I won the Super Bowl because I said, it took a while to make sure, was that real?” Cowher said during the broadcast. “This seems very surreal to me.”
— NFL (@NFL) January 12, 2020
Cowher is the second Steelers head coach to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Chuck Noll, who was inducted in 1993. Founder Art Rooney and chairman Dan Rooney have also been inducted as contributors.
“Congratulations to Bill Cowher on his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” current Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “One of our most successful coaches in team history, Bill’s energy and dedication for coaching was evident in every practice and every game. His Pittsburgh roots were perfect for our organization because he knew the history and passion of our fans and he wanted to bring a Super Bowl back to his hometown.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 12, 2020
Before coaching the Steelers, Cowher was a defensive coordinator under Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City from 1998-91. He was special teams coach and then defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns from 1985-88.
Cowher played in the NFL for six seasons, playing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1979 and from 1983-84 and for the Browns from 1980-82. He joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of NC State in 1979. Cowher played football, basketball and track for Carlynton High School.
After his coaching career, Cowher has broadcast for CBS since 2007.
Amongst Cowher’s former assistants, eight have gone on to become NFL head coaches: current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, along with Dom Capers, Chan Gailey, Jim Haslett, Dick LeBeau, Marvin Lewis, Mike Mularkey and Ken Whisenhunt.
The full list of inductees will include one more coach, 10 senior player selections and three contributors. The rest of those selections will be announced on Jan. 15. The five modern-era inductees will be selected on Super Bowl weekend.
Former Steelers safety Donnie Shell is in the running for the senior players selections. Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and guard Alan Faneca are modern player finalists.
The Steelers have 18 players inducted into the Hall fo Fame primarily as Steelers, the last coming in 2015, when Jerome Bettis was inducted. Eight players, three coaches and one executive associated with the Steelers have also been indicted largely for their contributions elsewhere.