While hope appears to be running out on following through with any semblance of a legitimate college football season, the NFL is moving forward with some significant changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NFL stadiums will not be rocking this fall -- at least not like past seasons.
The best-case scenario is that mask-wearing fans will occupy a small percentage of seats this season in some NFL venues. More likely, there will be no fans in at least the majority of stadiums.
"You'll have to bring your own juice," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said last week. "I'll tell you what, our team, that's one thing that we don't have a problem with, though, bringing the energy.
“We bring it every day in practice, and you see it out there during training camp already. The first walk-through basically felt like full speed.”
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Veteran offensive lineman Trent Williams points out that most of the time when football players work at their craft, there are no fans around. After all, jobs are won in practices. And other than some sessions in training camp during a normal summer, there are no spectators to provide a jolt of energy.
“It's going to be weird not to have fans, but the majority of football we play, there’s nobody watching us,” Williams said. “We’ve been playing the game our whole life. The fans make this sport what it is. Game days, they put that extra cherry on top and makes the experience a dream.”
At its basic level, however, Williams said nothing at all changes for the men who play the sport.
“The game is a game, whether there are fans there or not,” Williams said. “We have to execute. As professionals, that’s all we can hang our hats on. We got to be professionals and play the game when it’s probably not the easiest thing.
“Like Jimmy said, you got to bring your own juice.”
The NBA season has resumed in the bubble of Orlando, Fla. While each NFL team practices at their own facilities without the controlled environments, Williams said he believes the NBA is leading the way for how to move forward in playing a high-energy sport in a nearly empty building.
“I think the NBA has kind of shown us how it can be done, virtually,” Williams said. “And I think they’ve done a great job with that. So I’m encouraged by that, and I think we’ll be OK.”
If there is one advantage, it is for quarterbacks of visiting teams. Garoppolo said he is looking forward to the road experience, where there will not be the usual complications of communicating with teammates in a loud environment, such as Seattle or New Orleans.
"It will be different. No silent count will be needed on the road," Garoppolo said.. "So that's a luxury. I'm pretty excited about that one. It'll be different.
"We're just going to have to adapt to it and change on the fly. And I'm sure there'll be some hiccups along the way. But the better we can adapt, and the more quickly we can adapt, the better."