Texans, Cowboys could have half-full stadiums, other teams might have no fans. How will that affect NFL games?
A memory that Mark Sanchez has of his NFL days is a Styx song.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are using Renegade in the fourth quarter to fuel the fans and the team. Steelers fans sing along, while Heinz Field gets loud and electric.
"If you don't have that and everyone sings, you only have the song," said Sanchez, who hosted the 4th and Forever podcast on Showtime. "It's not the same."
If the NFL season starts in 2020, it will be different as there will almost certainly not be full stadiums with atmospheres like Pittsburgh. And the amount can vary from stadium to stadium, depending on government regulations.
Something will get lost.
"As an NFC North member who goes to Lambeau Field and hears:" I want to tap your drum all day! "I don't want to hear that ..." said former Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long loudly singing the Todd Rundgren song the Packers play after touchdowns.
"And it's not the fans - it's the PA system. At Lambeau this year, if they get a touchdown, there won't be 60,000 Green Bay fans, so no:" I want to be on your drum all day beat! "And you can get over what I couldn't ... I hate this song!"
So not everyone will miss it. But it won't be the same and it might not be the same.
Which states could some fans allow?
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said this week that the NFL plans to play its regular season and pre-season as planned with increased protocols and security measures, with adjustments as needed. The league did not comment on the stadium visit.
"We will continue to make decisions based on the latest advice from medical professionals and public health officials, as well as full compliance with current and future regulatory requirements," said McCarthy.
Thursday was Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is not optimistic about the prospect of a football season.
"If the players are not essentially in a bubble - isolated from the community and tested almost daily - it is very difficult to see how football can be played this fall," Fauci told CNN chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "If there is a second wave that is certainly a possibility and that would be made difficult by the predictable flu season, football could not take place this year."
However, the league has tried to ensure a level playing field for everyone, but it's hard to see the NFL deny the teams the chance to have a half-full stadium and the related revenue if their states allow it.
Texas is the only state to set a preliminary number for football matches in the fall. Governor Greg Abbott said the stadiums can be 50 percent full in the current reopening phase. Most of the other 23 states that have an NFL team did not provide a stadium visit number (see Charles Robinson's breakdown by state).
Some states have made comments indicating that partially full stadiums are OK. Colorado Governor Jared Polis told The Athletic: "If it's one in four seats or whatever, the more, the better, as long as not everyone is in danger." Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards speculated on April 15 that maybe every second or third seat in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome would be sold. Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy told SI.com he hoped to see fans for Giants and Jets games, but "I can't promise."
Some states have said they expect sport without fans in the fall. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the US Open tennis tournament could take place without fans in early September, which is an indication that Buffalo Bills games will be the same. You can see how the number of fans in NFL stadiums can vary from team to team.
Ohio is an example of how state governments in the NFL will govern when they have great plans. The Pro Football Hall of Fame was optimistic to host their annual Hall of Fame game with fans. Then, a week later, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said it was "highly unlikely" that the game would be large. It is clear that the NFL will not unilaterally decide on fans.
"We, the governors of all states, whether or not they have the facilities, will be the deciding factor in whether or not they are allowed to exercise," Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told ESPN.
If the NFL doesn't want to fight teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans to generate revenue from 50 percent of their stadium for home games, we could see a situation where some teams have 50 percent of the fans in the stadium and others don't. That would be an advantage for some teams.
Teams like the Dallas Cowboys could have at least half of their stadiums full. (Photo by Bob Levey / Getty Images)
Home advantage? Which teams can actually lose?
The New England Patriots have been the best home team in the NFL for the past three seasons together. They also had the best home record in the last five seasons and in the last ten seasons, cumulatively.
But that's not a shock. They were also the best team in football on this route.
It is therefore not fair to say that they are most susceptible to regressions when visitor numbers are severely affected. They were pretty good wherever they played.
However, if we take all 32 teams and measure their home performance against their street records - home win percentage minus street win percentage - we get a clearer picture of which teams do much better in their own stadiums (even if this isn't a perfect metric).
The teams that had the biggest percentage difference in home wins in the last three seasons were the Miami Dolphins (plus -333 at home), Indianapolis Colts and the now Las Vegas Raiders (both plus -292) who moved from Oakland .
Perhaps more surprisingly, four teams - three of them on the west coast - actually had better road records than home marks in the 2017-19 seasons.
The Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks both had a negative percentage difference in profit of minus 0.083 at home, followed by the Los Angeles Rams (minus 0.042) and the Detroit Lions (minus 0.021). Two other teams, the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Giants, have had the same record together at home and on the go in the last three seasons.
It's one thing for the chargers to play better in front of the smallest crowd in their under-sized football stadium in the past three seasons. But for the Seahawks - home of the “12th Mannes ”and always one of the loudest football stadiums in the world - winning something else on the street is something completely different.
In the past five years, only the hawks on the road were cumulatively better (0.550 percent profit) than at home (0.525). The rams are right below them, with a matching .550 mark at home and on the go. In the same period, the teams with the biggest home kicks were the Dolphins (plus-.250), Texans (plus-.225) and Green Bay Packers (plus-.213).
Does this mean that teams that normally have problems at home (compared to the street) will be successful at empty stadiums in 2020? Or that teams that have heavyweights at home and are comparatively poorer on the street are subject to regression? Not necessarily because dozens of other factors need to be considered.
However, some players believe that this effect is noticeable.
"I can promise you this: there will be teams that have been home to Molochs in the past, who may look like puppies this year," said Long. “The street is not a place for the mentally weak. I think that creates the same conditions for many people. "
The loudest stadiums lose a head start without a full audience
In our informal survey of former players, three stadiums were above the pack in terms of audience noise - Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, CenturyLink Field in Seattle and the Superdome in New Orleans. From none of the three states is it finally known how many fans are allowed to participate in games. However, Washington was one of the more restrictive states due to the outbreak of the corona virus.
The Guinness Book of Records lists Arrowhead as the record holder for the loudest moment in NFL history when the Chiefs hosted the Patriots in 2014. The Arrowhead crowd reached a staggering 142.2 decibels - well beyond the pain threshold and louder than a jet engine 100 feet away - cemented its status as one of the most deafening stages. Still, a former Chiefs player doesn't think it's the loudest.
"Yes, Chiefs fans don't like it when I mention it," said former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz. "I don't think Arrowhead is the loudest stadium and they don't agree on that."
Schwartz was with the Chiefs in 2013, the year Arrowhead first set the loudest crowd record in a game against the Raiders. And his attitude has a particularly sharp note, considering that his younger brother Mitch is now a pillar on the Chiefs' offensive line. However, he is firmly convinced that the volume of the audience is not fully perceived by the players.
"So I don't think it's true: you don't measure sound at the 50-yard line," said Schwartz. "I think the record [against the Raiders was measured] at one point in the crowd. I remember the game. We set the record in the fourth quarter of a blowout and it wasn't even a full amount. Go and look. It was a 24 hour game. "
For his money, Schwartz chooses Seattle as the loudest crowd - by far.
"It's the constant noise during the game that makes the difference," he said. "The problem with the noise is: Seattle is loud all game.
"You come to the sidelines and can't even hear anything. It's just stupidly loud. ... It builds and builds. You can never have the feeling of catching yourself and adapting to it."
Lange agrees. Yes, he hated the Packers' touchdown song, and Long mentioned the Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium, Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium, and the Washington Redskins FedEx field ("when it's full") than other throaty masses.
But his top three are Seattle in order, followed by New Orleans and Kansas City.
"These are the places we all know as difficult places," said Long. "You take the shark's teeth out here (when the stadiums are less than full). Now all you have to do is fish."
Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, is one of the noisiest venues in the NFL. (Photo by Scott Winters / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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