The Pro Football Hall of Fame wasn't sure until the complete 2020 NFL schedule was released Thursday that the Hall of Fame is still on for Aug. 6 in Canton. A Steelers executive indicates his team is proceeding as if it will faces the Cowboys that day.
The Hall of Fame Game was placed on the NFL's official schedule Thursday, allowing excitement to continue to build in Canton.
The NFL confirmed the Steelers and Cowboys are scheduled to collide at 8 p.m., Aug. 6 (a Thursday), in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
"Our biggest takeaway was 100 percent encouragement," said Rich Desrosiers, vice president of communications and public relations at the Hall. "We understand there is a chance the game could be adjusted, but it's very encouraging the league announced the game is on for Aug. 6."
The Steelers are proceeding as if the game will be played. Pittsburgh was picked for the game largely because ex-Steelers Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell are part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2020.
In a Thursday interview on the Steelers' website, President Art Rooney II spoke of the preseason as if he is planning for the game to come off.
"We're excited about being part of the Hall of Fame ceremonies," Rooney said. "Obviously, we have some very special people who are going to be inducted, and we're very excited about that. While you don't really like to have five preseason games, we are excited to be part of those ceremonies.
"I know Steeler fans are going to want to be part of that celebration."
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put the entire league on notice that the schedule is subject to the changing COVID-19 landscape.
Part of a statement from Goodell:
"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 draft off-season program, and the 2020 NFL Draft."
The Hall is ready to adjust, as needed.
“We look forward to working with the league and our federal, state and local officials to kick off the NFL’s football season and celebrate its Centennial birthday in a safe and fan-friendly environment right where the game began,” David Baker, president & CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “If we need to adapt in any way, we will be prepared.”
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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was part of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 and is on the Hall's board of trustees, lobbied for his team to be in the game. The Aug. 6 game date originally was announced in early March, before coronavirus issues led to national rescheduling on a massive scale.
The Class of 2020 is scheduled to be enshrined in two installments — one the weekend after the Hall of Fame Game (including former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson) and one in September focusing on the senior enshrinees (including former Dallas star safety Cliff Harris).
"We are very excited about being named to play in the Hall of Fame Game,” Jones said on March 10. “When we learned that Jimmy Johnson would be involved in the August ceremony in Canton, we approached the Hall of Fame and expressed a strong interest in being a part of honoring his legacy and induction by bringing our team and Cowboys fans to Canton.”
The Hall of Fame Game is just part of the big plans the Hall has to celebrate the NFL’s centennial birthday. While details around the centennial celebration and the seniors enshrinement are still being finalized, part of it ties into the 2020 home opener for the Cleveland Browns.
“We are also excited about a very special matchup for the Centennial Celebration on Thursday night, Sept. 17 to celebrate the 100th birthday of the NFL from when it was founded in Canton, Ohio,” Baker said in his statement. “Two Heisman quarterbacks and the first overall draft choices, Joe Burrows and Baker Mayfield, will meet for the first time as the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Cleveland Browns.”
The Browns host the Bengals at 8:20 p.m., Sept. 17, with NFL Network televising the game.
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