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.
James Conner Surprises Mom with New House
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner warmed hearts last month when he surprised his father with a new truck.
Now, he is taking care of mom.
Conner recently surprised his mother with a brand new house, sharing her emotional reaction to Twitter on Saturday.
Welcome HOME Ma! You’ve sacrificed so much and we can’t thank you enough! You’re the reason I go to work day in and day out, to finally give you a place you can call Home. I Love you❤️🏡💪🏽💯🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/c25KyOphAo— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 4, 2020
Conner was able to pull off the surprise for his mother, Kelly Bibbs, with the help of his brothers. While Bibbs may have not realized what exactly was going on at first, seeing her son James and the golden balloons arranged to say “Welcome Home” quickly gave it away.
Steelers running backs coach Eddie Faulkner and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry shared their thoughts on the big surprise, among other on social media.
Wow! The best thing I’ve seen in a long time! https://t.co/BO3x1RkvDL— Eddie Faulkner (@coachfaulk) July 4, 2020
❤️ Absolutely, man that’s a amazing feeling… Making sure your people Straight forever ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) July 5, 2020
Conner’s gesture is a continuation of an offseason of giving that saw him gift his father a brand new truck back on June 6.
Bought my pops a truck! He was hype 😂🙏🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/QSrH2bdiTS— James Conner (@JamesConner_) June 6, 2020
Entering his fourth season out of Pitt, Conner is looking for a bounce back season following an injury plagued 2019 campaign. He rushed for 464 yards and four touchdowns, but played in only ten games for the Steelers.
Last season was a far cry from 2018, when Conner was a breakout sensation replacing Le’Veon Bell. He ran for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the 25-year-old has something to prove in 2020.
Report: NFL Teams Could Trim Training Camp Rosters More Than 13%
NFL teams are reportedly considering bringing fewer players than normal to training camp this year in an effort to combat COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Instead of bringing the regular 90 players, Schefter’s sources say teams could bring just 80, or even 75 players to camp this August.
In an effort to combat COVID-19, NFL teams are likely to bring fewer than the regular 90 players they ordinarily bring to training camp, per league sources. One source is predicting 80 per team, another 75, but no one is expecting 90. More coming up on https://t.co/rDZaVFhcDQ.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 2, 2020
While it appears teams have the right idea in mind by trying to minimize the risk of COVID-19, shrinking training camp rosters will limit opportunities for fringe players attempting to find a landing spot.
Still, smaller rosters will allow for proposed social distancing in training camp in compliance with the league’s protocols announced last month. There are also plans to expand practice squad rosters to handle the likely inactives that will arise from positive tests, which will return roster slots to those barred from camp.
In another move to combat the coronavirus, several reports indicate the league is slashing the 2020 preseason in half. Each team will play their Week 2 and 3 exhibition games, but Weeks and 4 will be canceled. The Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and Cowboys has already been called off.
These last two moves by the league are the first two instances of the NFL bending to the virus. The league had previously held the NFL Draft and free agency on time unimpeded, and is currently still planning on having fans in attendance this season, although that seems like a long-shot currently.
Bill Cowher Reveals He and His Wife Recovered from COVID-19
Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher and his wife Veronica have and recovered from COVID-19, the future Hall of Fame told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic.
While not diagnosed at the time, the couple experienced symptoms back in March following a trip to Hawaii, and tested positive for the virus antibodies in April.
According to Bouchette’s story, Cowher first knew something was wrong when he was unable to smell flowers he had purchased from a florist, and could not taste his wife’s cooking. Cowher also said he experienced shaky joints and a fever, while Veronica had a cough.
Cowher also shared his thoughts on the NFL season going forward, and if he thinks the league will be able to start up without a hitch. He seems skeptical.
“I don’t know,” Cowher said via Pro Football Talk. “No. 1, the players have to feel comfortable with whatever they come up with from a testing standpoint, from a protocol standpoint. I totally understand the reluctance. Even though they say young people aren’t getting it, you also have people who have asthma, people who have underlying conditions in their families — they’re going back to their homes with parents who may now be elderly. It’s not like you can isolate yourself from everybody, particularly during a season that’s five months long. . . . I still think we have a long way to go.”
Cowher added that players needed to be respected with regard to how they choose to handle the virus personally, including if they decided to skip the 2020 season entirely.
“It’s going to come down to the league and the NFLPA feeling comfortable moving forward, and even within that, if they come up with a set of guidelines, and now a player who doesn’t feel comfortable, he may not want to be part of it. It affects people differently not only from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint. . . . I think we have to respect that.”
A Super Bowl champion in 2005, Cowher spent his entire 15-year head coaching career with the Steelers. His 149 wins are top-20 in NFL history.
Cowher has worked as an analyst for The NFL Today on CBS since 2007.
The legendary coach was supposed to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, but the ceremony and festivities were moved to the summer of 2021 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.