By Lewis Gould
NFL commish Roger Goodell Zoomed with the media yesterday after the owners owners meeting, and he is incredibly bullish on the 2021 season.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero passed along Goodell’s comments:
Goodell’s voiced expectations come one day after the Center for Disease Control reported 15% of the U.S. population is “fully vaccinated” against the coronavirus, with another 100 million or more vaccines to be administered in the next 41 days.
On March 25, CNBC reported vaccination rates were sitting at more than 2.5 million Americans per day, while Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson had lined up federal deals for more than 800 million doses.
While the NFL did surpass the million attendance mark in a pandemic-prone 2020 regular season, that’s a stark contrast from the more than 17 million fans that attended games in 2019.
It’s a 94% attendance drop that not only was forced and necessary, but naturally proved to be a fiscal punch to the gut for league coffers. And in many ways, the one-year deals teams and players keep signing are simply byproducts of an unstable cap structure and league economy.
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson perhaps painted it best in late 2020:
“While [1 million] sounds like a lot in a COVID era that denied entrance to many spectators, you’d have to go all the way back to the 1.1 million fans hosted by the NFL in 1938 to find a season so sparsely attended. And that was a league that had only 10 teams.
“In 2020, hosting 1 million fans actually represents a staggering hit to the NFL’s coffers considering that the league drew more than 17 million fans during the 2019 regular season, accounting for billions in stadium revenue flowing into the bottom line.”
Indeed, 1938. More than eight decades since attendance was this sparse. But it seems 2021 is going to look a little bit different. A little bit like the old normal.