The Pro Football Hall of Fame is staying optimistic that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys will be able to square off in Canton in Aug. 5.
In a statement responding to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Hall of Fame vice president Rich Desrosiers made it clear that they are taking the necessary precautions, and still plan on playing the game.
“From the moment the Pro Football Hall of Fame closed its door in mid-March along with other businesses adhering to state guidelines for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, it has always been the Hall’s position that its summer slate of events would be held only in a manner safe for all participants, spectators, our Hall of Famers, staff and the thousands of volunteers who make Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls possible,” Desrosiers said.
“We’re still 51 days from the scheduled Hall of Fame Game — or the same number of days since April 26. Our state has moved strongly in a positive direction related to COVID-19 over the past 51 days, having flattened the curve for infection rates while increasing the availability of testing, so we all should be encouraged by that progress.”
Desrosiers’ remarks came just hours after Governor DeWine expressed doubts that the game will be played with fans in attendance.
“As much as I hate to say this, because we’ve all been looking forward to that and I know how much it means to the Canton area and the Stark County area and really across the country, it’s a great great event that we’ve been looking forward to, having a crowd that size is highly unlikely,” DeWine said on Tuesday.
Desrosiers is also optimistic that the game could be held “with reduced crowds or at venues set up to maximize safe physical distancing.”
While there are still questions regarding how much of the preseason will actually be played, the Hall of Fame Game would likely provide a look at what football fans can expect once the season begins in earnest amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the game is played, if will be each team’s seventh appearance in the game, tied for the most of any franchise. 2020’s contest would also serves as a rubber match, as each team holds a 3-3 record in the glorified preseason game.