Pro Football Hall of Fame Exploring Contingency Plans for Ceremony, HOF Game

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 03: Tony Gonzalez speaks during his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on August 3, 2019 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is exploring up to five contingency plans for the Aug. 6 Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys and the Aug. 8 enshrinement ceremony should the COVID-19 pandemic make holding the events in early August an impossibility. 

"We're not going to do anything that's not safe," the Hall of Fame executive director David Baker told Jarrett Bell of USA Today on Monday. "But I do hope that we can lead in showing that this can be done in a way that will inspire us."

While the NFL is set to release the regular season schedule Thursday, the preseason schedule is expected to release next week. One of the contingency plans would be pushing back the Hall of Fame Game and the induction ceremony until later in August.

Another would be postponing the enshrinement until Sept. 16-19 and combining it with the NFL's Centennial Celebration, which will celebrate the league's 100th birthday. The NFL was founded on Sept. 17, 1920. 

There are also options for delaying the induction ceremony until 2021, which include holding the event over Easter Weekend or pushing back the ceremony by an entire year and inducting two Hall of Fame classes in August 2021. 

"We've got a lot of alternatives," Baker said.

Baker did note that a virtual and remote enshrinement ceremony—similar to this year's NFL draft—is off the table, however. And for now, the plan is to hold the game and enshrinement on their scheduled dates.

"The Pro Football Hall of Fame is planning on kicking off the NFL's season in Canton on Aug. 6 at the Hall of Fame Game with a full and safe schedule of enshrinement activities for the best four days in football," Baker wrote in an email to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "If the NFL season is delayed for any reason, we will adapt accordingly."

The class of 2020 includes players Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James and Troy Polamalu; coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson; and contributors Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue and George Young.