- The NFL has canceled the 2020 Hall of Fame game set for August 6 between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.
- The Hall of Fame game is the traditional start of NFL preseason play.
- The 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies have been delayed.
The NFL has maintained a ‘business as usual’ approach to their upcoming season but that may no longer be possible. Earlier today, the league cancelled the 2020 Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio set for August 6. It is the first on field event cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league didn’t confirm the cancellation initially but finally released an official statement on Thursday afternoon. The current plan is for the 2020 HOF matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers to be rescheduled for the 2021 preseason. In addition, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been postponed.
Two weeks ago, Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker indicated that the game and ceremonies would take place as scheduled. Ultimately, it was the NFL’s call to pull the plug. The 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place along with the 20201 class. A ‘virtual enshrinement’ was considered but quickly rejected. Here’s what Baker had to say about the decision on NFL Now:
“We think that our mission is to honor the heroes of the game and to do that without your friends and your families and your teammates and the fans that helped get you here just doesn’t do it service. So in the end we thought the best thing to do after talking to our board of trustees was to put this enshrinement over into 2021. That will be pretty special because we will also enshrine in a separate ceremony the Class of 2021. So our phrase right now is, “It’s going to be twice the fun in ’21.'”
This is the third time that the Hall of Fame game has been cancelled since it’s debut in 1962. In 2011, the game was cancelled due to the NFL lockout. In 2016, the game was called off due to poor field conditions. There have also been two occasions where the game was called off in the second half due to severe lightning (1980 and 2003). The NFL’s ‘party line’ remains that the 2020 regular season is expecting to start on time but that might not be feasable. The HOF game cancellation could represent ‘the writing on the wall’. There is some speculation that the league will reduce the number of preseason games from four to two but as of yet there’s not been any confirmation of that.
From a fan’s standpoint the cancellation of the Hall of Fame game is no big loss. From a NFL betting standpoint, the game has become an almost automatic play on the ‘Under’. In the past decade, the game has seen an average of 29.5 PPG scored. This year’s game had the Pittsburgh Steelers installed as a -1 point favorite with the total set at 34.