Roger Goodell doesn’t exactly engender many warm and fuzzy feelings among football fans. After all, you can always count on an outpouring of boos aimed directly at the league commissioner during the NFL draft.
However, Goodell just gave fans around the world the best possible news about the 2021 NFL season.
COVID-19 had a drastic impact on the NFL last year
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the 2020 NFL season.
For the first time ever, Roger Goodell hosted a virtual version of the NFL draft. That certainly represented a new experience for football fans who tune in every April to watch the three-day affair.
Players and coaches also had to deal with the pandemic in different ways. From not having a full offseason program to facing fines for not following league safety protocols, the 2020 season had a distinctly different feel to it.
Plus, several teams experienced COVID-19 outbreaks that caused the NFL to make multiple schedule changes.
And when players and coaches actually took the field, they did so in front of mostly empty stadiums. It certainly looked strange to see live NFL games happening with little to no fans in attendance. And the sound of pumped-in crowd noise definitely didn’t measure up the cheering and screaming of actual humans.
Roger Goodell just gave football fans the best possible news about the upcoming season
Roger Goodell had no choice but to implement unprecedented rules and procedures to keep everyone safe throughout the course of a truly one-of-a-kind season. But on Tuesday, the commissioner just gave football fans around the world the best possible news about the 2021 NFL season.
“All of us in the NFL want to see every one of our fans back,” Goodell told reporters during the first of a two-day virtual meeting of owners, per ESPN. “Football is simply not the same without fans, and we expect to have full stadiums in the upcoming season.”
A return to normalcy certainly has to excite NFL fans. After all, league attendance reportedly dipped more than 90% compared to 2019. According to ESPN, only 1.2 million fans got included in attendance counts for the entire regular season and postseason.
But with Goodell confirming that the league plans to have fully-packed stadiums this fall, football fans worldwide have a chance to see their favorite NFL team up close and personal. That will also help the league make up a significant revenue deficit that occurred as a result of the pandemic.
Packed stadiums won’t be the only thing different about the 2021 NFL season
Roger Goodell delivered some terrific news on Tuesday for football fans around the globe. But beyond having packed stadiums again, the NFL will also switch things up in another way in 2021.
Owners approved the expansion of the regular season from 16 to 17 games Tuesday. Again, this measure will also help the league’s bottom line after a rough financial year.
“Since players share the revenue that is brought into the NFL, more money for the NFL means more money for the players as well,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement, per ESPN. “The new CBA also increases the players’ revenue share as part of the negotiated media kicker, which comes into effect when we play 17 regular-season games. As a result, players will see even larger revenue increases in future years, when the new media revenues really begin.”
Goodell described the decision as “a monumental moment in NFL history.”
The first iteration of the 17-game schedule will feature AFC teams hosting NFC teams. Here are some of the exciting matchups that just got added to the mix for 2021:
- New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys
- Baltimore Ravens vs. LA Rams
- Cleveland Browns vs. Arizona Cardinals
- Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers
So in addition to having the opportunity to pack stadiums again, NFL fans will also enjoy an extra week of regular-season competition moving forward.