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Garth Brooks cancels five NFL stadium shows over Delta variant

Mike Florio and Chris Simms congratulate the Atlanta Falcons for becoming the first NFL team to have every player vaccinated.

The NFL claims it has no reason to believe that capacity will be reduced at any stadiums in 2021 due to the ongoing spread of the Delta variant to the coronavirus. The NFL now has at least one reason to wonder how things will go.

Garth Brooks has canceled concerts at five different NFL stadiums, triggering a refund of roughly 350,000 tickets.

Brooks pulled the plug on concerts at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (September 18), Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (September 25), M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (October 2), Gillette Stadium in Foxborough (October 9), and Nissan Stadium in Nashville, which had no specific date yet.

“In July, I sincerely thought the pandemic was falling behind us,” Brooks said Wednesday in a statement. “Now, watching this new wave, I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part. It is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to cancel all five shows but with a hopeful heart, we will reschedule and start over when this wave seems to be behind us. . . .

“The most important thing to me is fulfilling my end of the stadium tour by making sure every show is doable before putting tickets on sale and making sure the environment these people are trading their time and money to put themselves into is not only the best experience ever, but also the safest one we can provide.”

That’s a very responsible position from Brooks, and he has the flexibility to take that approach. The NFL has to play its games when scheduled. Although the safest approach would be to proceed without fans, the league has no appetite to surrender another season of revenue. Instead, stadiums will require masks or COVID tests or proof of vaccination.