The NFL has canceled the Hall of Fame game that traditionally opens the preseason and is delaying the 2020 induction ceremonies because of the coronavirus pandemic, two people with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced, though an announcement is expected later Thursday. ESPN first reported the Hall of Fame game cancellation.
The Aug. 6 exhibition game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers is the first on-field event the league has canceled during the pandemic. The league 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.
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, Ohio.
Ten men were scheduled to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Aug. 8; the hall has an increased class of 20 this year in commemoration of the NFL's centennial. No date has been set for when any inductions will occur, the people said.
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 in August.
The hall also had scheduled a centennial celebration in mid-September that would include 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.
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