The return of fans to NFL games this season is a welcome boost for a nation reeling from the covid-19 pandemic, that has claimed thousands of lives and forced change in nearly every facet of American life.
Fans were largely excluded from stadiums last season to stem the spread of the virus but came back in force, donning jerseys in Dallas, face paint in Seattle and blocks of cheese on your head in Green Bay.
“It was hard to watch the cardboard cutouts in the stands and the noise from the fans last season,Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana told Reuters.
“It’s great that people are back in the seats. It means a lot to everyone in this country. Everyone says baseball is the American sport, but I don’t agree. I think football is. “
Ahead of the season, 93% of all season ticket holders renewed their tickets, a five-year high, and nearly two million fans have attended regular season games so far this year, slightly ahead of 2019, a declared the NFL.
Montana, which led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl wins, is part of a new Guinness campaign that celebrates the meeting of football fans over a pint of the famous Irish beer.
“Good things are within our grasp,“says an optimistic advertisement featuring Montana.
The impact of the Covid
Americans are hoping the nation finally turns the page on the pandemic, which has killed more than 670,000 people in the United States since the virus first emerged early last year.
The number of new cases in the United States is declining and a recent wave of hospitalizations for covid-19, mainly among the unvaccinated, may also have peaked, although the country still recorded some 1,500 deaths per day over the past week, according to CDC data.
If the positive trends continue, all roads lead to the highly anticipated Super Bowl on February 13 in Los Angeles at the city’s new state-of-the-art SoFi stadium.
“It will be a mark in space and time for everyone that things are back to normal, ”Montana said.
“Especially if they get a good match,he said, adding that he expected to see a rematch of last year’s championship game between Tom Brady’s Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes Chiefs.
Los Angeles-based event producers like John Terzian, owner of the h.wood group, said the energy of the games this season has been unprecedented.
“In all my years, I’ve never seen this kind of excitement,” said Terzian, whose Bootsy Bellows ground club at SoFi Stadium. was packed with top-flight fans and top-tier celebrities for the Rams’ home opener.
“I think it will be one of the best Super Bowls ever. We plan to go all out,” he said.
“People are very happy to be back at the events they enjoy, and the NFL tops the list. “