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Report: NFL to Tarp Off Lower Rows of Seats, Sell Signage Opportunities

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In another attempt to combat COVID-19, the NFL is planning to tarp off the first six to eight rows in stadiums to ensure distance between players and coaches from fans if they are present, according to a report by Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal.

The measure has also opened up a lucrative opportunity for clubs, as they will be able to sell sponsorship signage on the tarps that will be visible on television broadcasts. Selling this signage is intended help combat some of the lost revenue teams are expecting as a result of the pandemic.

Fischer reports that the plan was shared with team presidents on Tuesday, and that the proposal will be presented to league owners in a meeting tomorrow.

The idea has already been implemented in Europe, as the English Premier League began repurposing empty seating for advertisement when the top-flight soccer league returned last week.

While the proposal seems like a brilliant solution by coupling COVID-19 measures with revenue generation, there are some restrictions.

Sponsors can not conflict with league sponsors, such as Pepsi and Verizon, which means that team naming rights and local sponsors should be in the clear. No indications has been made if gambling companies will have access to these opportunities.

This will be the first time ever that clubs will be allowed to sell their own sponsorship on the field level, but the policy will be limited to just the 2020 season. In the past, clubs have been prevented from placing signage within 40 feet of the playing surface. Microsoft, Bose, Gatorade and Oakley are currently the only brands that enjoy the luxury of regular, on-camera brand exposure during the television broadcast.

Though it would appear that the league would institute these new measures with the intent of having fans for the 2020 season, no official announcement has been made yet by the league regarding empty stadiums this year.

The Steelers have announced that they have limited single-game ticket sales in an attempt to plan ahead for mandates of less than capacity crowds.

NFL

J.J. Watt Explains Cardinals Signing on Adam Schefter’s Podcast

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Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt joined The Adam Schefter Podcast on to discuss his decision to sign with the NFC West’s Arizona Cardinals. 

While he had numerous suitors across the league, Watt says he was drawn to Arizona by the promise of young quarterback Kyler Murray and his familiarity with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

“All the signs pointed there,” Watt said. “There’s a ton of exciting young talent here. In this league you need a quarterback to have a chance, and they’ve got a very talented young quarterback, who can continue to take the next step. Defense, I’m very familiar with Vance Joseph, who was with me down in Houston with Wade Philips early in my career.”

Watt believes the Cardinals are a team on the cusp of greatness, and that he is the piece to finally put them over the top.

“I think it’s just a team ready to grow and take that next step,” Watt added. “You look at the last three years, they’ve continued to increase win totals every year and are on that trajectory. And I’m looking to help fast track that trajectory.”

Schefter also asked Watt if it was ever realistic he would join his brothers T.J. and Derek with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The star defensive end demonstrated his elusiveness, avoiding addressing the idea head on.

“There was a lot of thought given to every single scenario,” he said. “So we could really sit down and look through all the options and speak with all the teams and gather all the information we possibly could. And there were definitely a lot of great options, there were a lot of opportunities to play. But at the end of the day, I’m very, very excited to be here in Arizona.”

The Cardinals now boast one of the league’s top pass-rushing tandems, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.

Arizona had the fourth-most sacks in football last season before Watt’s arrival with 48.

Watt exits Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown last season.

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J.J. Watt is Signing with the Arizona Cardinals

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The weeks of waiting and theatrics are over. Free agent defensive end J.J. Watt is signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

Watt broke the news himself on Monday afternoon, tweeting a picture of himself squatting in a Cardinals t-shirt.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Watt is signing a two-year, $31 million deal with Arizona, $23 million of which will be guaranteed.

Watt joining the Cardinals comes as somewhat of a surprise, as reporting over recent weeks had suggested the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were the last favorites standing.

Still, Watt’s former Houston Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins was actively recruiting the star defensive end to Arizona just two weeks ago.

“Let’s finish what we started,” Hopkins said in an Instagram post picturing the two embracing with Watt Photoshopped into a Cardinals jersey.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the early favorites to land Watt, reuniting him with his brothers T.J. and Derek, but the clubs financials made the most virtually impossible to compete with an offer like Arizona’s.

The Cardinals now own one of the league’s fiercest defensive fronts, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.

Arizona already had the fourth-most sacks in football last season with 48.

Watt departed Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt

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One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.

Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.

Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.

For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.

Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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