Some coaches have taken to complaining about the NFL’s decision to let state and local authorities dictate whether and how many fans can attend games this season as opposed to instituting uniformity — essentially saying no teams can have fans in the stands.
Others could give a hoot about any perceived unfairness.
“I really don’t give a damn about that,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said of any unfairness, per the team’s official website. “If we can play in a stadium that’s full, half-full, a third-full, home or away, we’re happy. That shows progress with the COVID. Otherwise, I personally don’t care, other than that I would like to see fans.”
Fangio’s gruff and frank response sits in stark contrast to the Bills’ Sean McDermott and the Vikings’ Mike Zimmer, who have grumbled about it being a “ridiculous” “disadvantage” that fans can be at some stadiums and not at others.
Most teams that have made announcements about attendance have stated that there will be no fans in the stands at least for the start of the season. Per NFL.com records, of the 19 teams to have announced policies thus far, 15 are not planning for fans for their first home game — including Fangio’s Broncos. The three teams who plan to have fans will be at diminished capacity. The Kansas City Chiefs are planning for 22 percent capacity (roughly 16,800); the Miami Dolphins will have a max of 13,000 fans; the Jacksonville Jaguars are planning for 25 percent capacity; and the Dallas Cowboys are planning to limit capacity but haven’t stated their exact figures.
The NFL isn’t budging on allowing local protocol to dictate fan attendance, so while more coaches might huff and puff, it likely will make no difference.
One thing to remember is that at least 25 percent of coaching is whining, complaining and drumming up perceived slights where little exists. It’s melded into the job, so it’s hard to fault some from continuing that tradition when it comes to fan attendance during a pandemic.
The truth is that there are always certain built-in inconsistencies when it comes to an NFL season. Where was the complaining from fellow coaches when the Chargers spent two years in a soccer stadium filled with opponents’ fans? Is that not a big disadvantage? What about the fact that every year west coast teams are forced to travel thousands of miles more than some other teams? What about when a club gets shafted with back-to-back-to-back road games in a year? Or when teams play multiple opponents coming off bye weeks?
Life isn’t fair. Neither is a football season. The best teams aren’t the ones that moan about it, but rather rise above the challenge.
Fangio’s take is closer to the level-headed approach most should take during these unprecedented times.
Coaches are fond of spouting clichés like they’d play anyone anywhere at any time. During a pandemic, that should also include with or without fans in the stands.
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