As the NFL attempts to conduct the 2020 season amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the league has given each team the ability to make its own decision regarding fan attendance.
In many cities, including Washington, Baltimore and Buffalo, fans will be kept from attending games - at least at the start of the season. In other locations, such as Kansas City, Dallas and Jacksonville, teams are preparing for their home stadiums to have a select amount of spectators in attendance.
Some coaches across the league, including Bills boss Sean McDermott, have raised concern that there is not a uniform policy on fan attendance across the NFL, citing teams that are allowed fans will have a competitive advantage over others.
Ron Rivera was asked if he thinks there's an advantage to having some fans in attendance, and the Washington head coach said he didn't think so -- unless the stadium was full.
"Well, unless they're going to have 80,000 people in the stands, I don't know how much of an advantage it will create," Rivera told local reporters Tuesday.
"I can't imagine people having that many fans and it will make a difference," Rivera said. "If someone has 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 fans, OK good. But I don't know how much of an impact they'll have in terms of noise and all that kind of stuff. "
Even in places where fans will be allowed, it's almost certain that stadiums will fill less than half of their capacity. With that being the case, many stadiums will feel empty for the players, even if 20,000 or so people happen to be in attendance.
Just like how the MLB and NBA have done since returning to action this summer, the NFL also plans to pump in artificial crowd noise during games. Rivera does not believe the fake crowd noise will impact his team, either.
"My understanding is they'll have some ambient noise that will be played," Rivera said. "It doesn't matter how you look at it. We're there to play football. You've got to play. That's just the way it is."
As he's been tasked with turning around the culture in Washington, Rivera has made it clear he won't make excuses for anything that goes wrong.
So, don't expect the head coach to attribute the unusual game-day atmosphere this fall to any of his team's on-field performance.
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