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NFL Cancels Hall of Fame Game, Delays Inductions Until 2021

Story Document The NFL has canceled the Hall of Fame game that traditionally opens
the preseason and is delaying the 2020 induction ceremonies for a
year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Aug. 6 exhibition game in Canton, Ohio, between the Dallas
Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers is the first on-field event the
league has canceled during the pandemic. It will be played on Aug.
5, 2021, with the same teams.

Enshrinements for 10 men scheduled for Aug. 8 now will occur on
Aug. 7, 2021, with the special centennial class that was set to be
inducted in mid-September now entering the Pro Football Hall of
Fame the next day.

”This is the right decision for several reasons, first and
foremost the health and welfare of our Gold Jackets, incoming
centennial class of 2020 members, hall personnel and event
volunteers,” said David Baker, the hall’s CEO. ”We also must
consider the most appropriate way to fulfill the first tenet of our
mission: To honor the heroes of the game. This decision meets that
duty.”

NFL owners are conducting a virtual meeting Thursday in which the
preseason schedule will be discussed. It’s possible the league will
reduce the number of exhibition games to two per team from the
usual four. Dallas and Pittsburgh would have played five, including
the game in Canton.

The NFL was able to conduct free agency, the draft and several
owners meetings remotely, and it recently began reopening team
facilities that were shut in late March, albeit on a limited basis.
Only players who are rehabilitating injuries are allowed in team
complexes.

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, NFL Films co-founder Steve
Sabol, former New York Giants executive George Young, former
coaches Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher, and former players Troy
Polamalu, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, Isaac Bruce and Steve
Atwater were to be inducted into the hall this August.

”The delay is obviously disappointing but completely
understandable,” Tagliabue told The Associated Press. ”It’s
always a great weekend especially for football fans and family,
coaches, colleagues who’ve been critical in our successes. But a
big part of the weekend is meeting, greeting, photos and signing
autographs for the thousands of fans. Not something that I’d want
to do in the coronavirus environment.”

The hall’s centennial celebration in September would have included
the inductions of 10 men selected by a special panel in January.
That class includes Harold Carmichael, Jim Covert, Bobby Dillon,
Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Donnie Shell, Duke Slater,
Mac Speedie and Ed Sprinkle.

The Hall of Fame, which opened in 1963, has never had two
enshrinements in one weekend. It has had cancellations of the game,
including in 2011 because of the league’s lockout of the players,
and in 2016, when the field at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was
declared unplayable because of poor conditions.

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