On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disputed the thought that teams permitted to have fans in attendance will have a competitive advantage this season.
“We do not believe it’s a competitive advantage,” he said. “We discussed it very early on with our Competition Committee and with our clubs. We do not see that. We obviously have varying capacities across the league, and from our standpoint, we want to invite our fans in if we can do it safely and we can do it with the full support of local officials. We think our fans want to come the stadium.”
Roger Goodell just said on a conference call with reporters that he and the Competition Committee have concluded that a competitive advantage does not arise when some teams have fans present and others don't.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 1, 2020
Instead of simply admitting the 2020 season will be different than any season prior, which provides challenges all clubs must overcome, the league is denying the obvious. Teams playing in front of fans this season will unquestionably have a competitive edge over those that will not.
While the Steelers have only prohibited fans from attending their first two home games thus far, a statewide decree could be extending that ban further.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced last week the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and city of Philadelphia both informed the organization they cannot have fans until told otherwise. With this mandate coming from the state level, it likely applies to the Steelers as well.
Multiple organizations have already ruled out fans entirely this season, including the Bears, Giants, Jets and Washington.