American football’s return brings joy amid COVID-19 malaise

Former Superbowl champion quarterback Joe Montana, who played for the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League, speaks during an interview in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on January 22, 2019. REUTERS / Chris Helgren

LOS ANGELES, Sept.24 (Reuters) – The return of fans to NFL games this season is a welcome boost for a nation reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed thousands of lives and forced changes in almost every facet of America’s life.

Fans were largely shut out of 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 their heads 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. 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 football fans meeting over a pint of the famous Irish beer.

“The good things are within our grasp,” says an optimistic advertisement featuring Montana.

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 spate of hospitalizations for COVID-19, mostly among the unvaccinated, may also have peaked, although the country still recorded some 1,500 COVID-19 deaths per day during from last week, according to CDC data. Read more

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 to get things back to normal,” Montana said.

“Especially if they have a good game,” 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 group h.wood, said the energy of the games this season was unprecedented.

“In all my years, I have never seen this kind of excitement,” said Terzian, whose Bootsy Bellows ground club at SoFi Stadium was filled with top fans and top celebrities for the game. home opening of the Rams.

“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 is at the top of the list.”

Editing by Christian Radnedge

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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