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Steelers Will Require Fans to Wear Masks, Announce Season Ticket Refund Option

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The Pittsburgh Steelers announced in an email to season ticket holders Wednesday evening they will provide a full-refund option for the 2020 campaign. The team also said that fans will be required to wear masks at Heinz Field if they are in attendance this year.

In addition to offering a full refund, the Steelers stated that season ticket holders will not lose their ability renew their seat locations for the 2021 season.

The organization is still optimistic fans will be in attendance at Heinz Field this year, stating they are “working with both the NFL and public health officials on how fans can attend games in a safe manner.”

While the team would prefer to have the stands full in 2020, the Steelers anticipate “working with a reduced capacity scenario,” as well as the mask requirement. They did not provide an estimate of what the reduced attendance figure would ultimately be.

“Our goal is to still have fans at Heinz Field this year with the understanding that social distancing, as well as all fans being required to wear masks, will play a role in the capacity to ensure a safe atmosphere,” Steelers Director of Communications Burt Lauten said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the NFL and public health officials to finalize plans for fans to attend our home games.”

With rumors that the 2020 preseason slate will be shortened, the Steelers will also refund fans who purchased tickets for any preseason games that do end up being cancelled.

While season tickets are usually sent out in late July, the team will “employ a digital ticketing solution to allow for flexibility” as they and the league navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are communicating with our season ticket holders to make them aware of the digital ticketing process we will employ this season at Heinz Field for a more flexible solution as we prepare for potential reduced capacity,” Lauten added. “We will continue the process of allowing our fans to opt out of their 2020 season tickets if they feel they are uniquely affected by the current situation.”

Pittsburgh’s update comes just hours after the rival Baltimore Ravens released contingencies of their own for a potentially coronavirus-altered 2020 season. The Ravens plan to limit available seating to 14,000 per game if fans are allowed to attend in adherence of social distancing guidelines.

NFL

NFL Considering Making Roughing the Passer Reviewable

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The NFL is considering making roughing the passer calls subject to replay review, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista.

Battista reports that owners are expected to vote on the potential rule change at the annual league meetings later this month.

There is no denying that roughing the passer calls have become increasingly questionable over recent years, as the league continues to emphasize the protection of its most valuable assets – the quarterbacks.

Still, the concept does conjure painful memories of 2019, when the league tried reviewing pass interference calls. The experiment proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and was scrapped after a single season.

While the new role could remedy some of the infuriating calls the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been levied with in recent year, the chance could also open up an unintended can of worms.

Reviewing roughing the passer calls is not the only potential rule change the owner will reportedly consider.

According to Battista, owners will also discuss switching overtime back to sudden death, creating an alternative to the onside kick and voting on a rule reportedly proposed by the Buffalo Bills to delay coaching and general manager interviews until the conference championship round.

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NFL Insider John Clayton Predicts Steelers Could Cut Joe Haden, Vince Williams

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John Clayton, one of the longest tenured NFL Insiders, offered a prediction on how the Steelers will handle their roster in the coming weeks during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan.

When referring to player cuts around the NFL, Clayton said he expects many notable players to be released by their current teams. Clayton proclaimed “it will be a bloodbath around the league” and that could include a couple key veterans being handed their walking papers by the Steelers.

Joe Haden and Vince Williams could both be forced to find new teams as soon as next week, according to Clayton. Haden has spent the past 4 seasons in Pittsburgh after spending his first 7 years with the Browns. Williams has played his entire 8-year NFL career with the Steelers after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

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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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