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Pittsburgh Native Pat McAfee Added to ESPN Thursday Night Football Crew

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Pittsburgh native and former Plum, West Virginia and Indianapolis Colts punter and kicker Pat McAfee will broadcast NFL games during the upcoming 2019 season, ESPN announced on Monday.

McAfee will be a part of ESPN’s Thursday Night Football broadcast team, along with play-by-play broadcaster Adam Amin, analyst Matt Hasselback and sideline reporter Molly McGrath. McAfee will also making regular appearances on the network’s Get Up! morning show with Mike Greenberg, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

McAfee, 32, retired from the NFL after knee surgery in 2017 to host a podcast with Barstool Sports. He coined the hashtag #ForTheBrand to highlight the abilities and accomplishments of specialists. McAfee has previously worked a couple of NFL games and also has done commentary for WWE.

He played for eight NFL seasons, all with the Colts and was named to two Pro Bowls. His career punting average was 46.4 yards.

At West Virginia, he was a first-team All-American in 2008 and handled kicking and punting duties and was part of the school’s Fiesta Bowl win after the 2007 season.

Pro Football

NFL Cuts 2020 Preseason Down to Two Games

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NFL

After weeks of speculation, the NFL has officially cut the 2020 preseason in half, according to multiple reports.

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.

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XFL Suspends All Operations, 2021 Return Uncertain

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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.

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.

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.

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Steelers Release Hall of Fame Enshrinement Details

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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.

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