The 2020 Hall of Fame Game, which was scheduled to feature the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 6, has been postponed. The matchup and this year's Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, slated for Aug. 8, have both been delayed until 2021.
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As a public health precaution, all events associated with the 2020 Enshrinement Week Powered by @johnsoncontrols have been rescheduled for August 5 – 9, 2021. The Class of 2020 will be honored in a separate ceremony from the Class of 2021. More: https://t.co/aqxcKv6cwW #PFHOF20 https://t.co/l3W8THYuWj
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the update Thursday. It's the first major cancellation on the NFL calendar amid the coronavirus pandemic, which forced much of the league's offseason into a virtual format.
The decision is expected to delay the teams' report dates for training camp. Most clubs are expected to begin camp July 28, though the topic remains under discussion, with a conference call between NFL owners scheduled for Thursday, per Schefter.
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network previously reported the league and Players Association were discussing cutting the preseason from four games to two because of COVID-19. It would create more time flexibility and reduce large-scale gatherings between teams before the regular season.
If the league eliminated the first two weeks of exhibition games in addition to the Hall of Fame Game, the preseason start date would switch from Aug. 6 to Aug. 27.
For now, the regular season is scheduled to kick off Sept. 10 with the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement in May saying the league was prepared to alter its schedule as necessary based on the latest coronavirus information:
"In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with the appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities.
"We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this offseason in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual offseason program, and the 2020 NFL draft."
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Saturday the league remains "highly optimistic" it will be able to move forward with its 2020 campaign, but there's "less optimism" about fans being able to attend.
It's unclear whether the recent surge in COVID-19 cases could change the outlook, though.
Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.