Yesterday, we shared some of Dare Ogunbowale’s thoughts about the new additions to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster. Today, we’re sharing more of his thoughts, but this time they’re about whether or not those new pieces will even get on the field.
Asked on the SnapBack Sports Podcast about the potential of playing football without fans in the stadium, Ogunbowale had this to say,
“I watch a lot of soccer so I’ve been watching the UPL and they obviously don’t have any fans, and it’s pretty crazy to watch,” Ogunbowale said. “I do imagine myself playing in an empty stadium - our first game of the season is supposed to be in The Superdome so I wouldn’t mind it...”
I suppose if there’s a silver lining to potentially playing Week 1 of the 2020 NFL Season without fans in-house, Ogunbowale found it. Of course, I’m sure Saints fans would disagree. But what then of when Tampa Bay returns home for their first game in Raymond James Stadium? If a cannon fires in a stadium, but there are no fans there to hear it, does it make a sound? Of course it does, and fans will still be able to hear it on the telecasts. It just wouldn’t be the same.
But hey, any football is better than no football, right? If the fans had a choice between having to watch from home or not having games at all, I think the overwhelming majority would prefer to watch from home. An opportunity the Bucs’ running back feels confident will happen.
“I feel like the overwhelming feeling is that we’ll start the season on time and we’ll be able to get through a whole season.”
Good news certainly. There’s a growing feeling and movement across the league however, that regular season games might be the first live-action anyone gets to see this season. The NFL has already cut the 2020 preseason in half, and the NFLPA has voted to cancel preseason altogether. This would mean teams would only work in-house and without live opponents until the regular season officially begins in September.
While this is just one more way the NFL and its players are doing what they can to ensure a season happens at all, it’s damning for rookies (especially undrafted rookies) who are looking to get some NFL reps under their belts before doing it at full speed. The impact this will have on guys like Ogunbowale himself who made his name largely in training camp and preseason game opportunities, is not lost on the now veteran NFL running back.
“If I were a rookie this year and then having two preseason games its really tough you know,” Ogunbowale said. “You’re not only putting out film for your team that you’re on the 90-man roster, but those reps that you get all 32 teams see those so, it’s definitely tough - it’s going to be a lot tougher for guys to pop out and have that preseason moment.”
In all, Ogunbowale sounds confident there will be football in 2020, and the league will be able to see it through to the end. During the episode he and the hosts even discussed the strange reality which might come about when the Super Bowl is played in an empty stadium.
With everything going on this off-season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are primed to become a significant player in NFL history. Tom Brady is going for his seventh title run with a new team for the first time in his career. This season’s Super Bowl being hosted in Tampa gives the team a fighting chance to make history as the first to host and play in the big game in the same season. And now, thanks to Covid-19, it could become the first Super Bowl ever played, without fans in attendance.
I shudder to think what that might look like.