Leading up to and even during the 2020 NFL regular season, it seemed like just about every article, video or podcast involving the Steelers contained at least one person in the accompanying comment section that was certain the league would not be able to start and/or finish its campaign.
“No way will they play/finish the season.”
You can’t blame those folks. They had witnessed every other professional and collegiate sport have their leagues mostly decimated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But the NFL, the billion-dollar industry that it is, was never anything but confident (at least publicly) that it would survive its 2020 season unscathed. Heck, as recently as a few months before the regular season was set to kick-off, there were those in positions of power, including executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, who insisted that the NFL would even be able to do so in full stadiums all across the country. Mind you, this was at a time when the other major professional sports leagues in America—NBA, NHL and MLB—were still on hiatus and trying to figure things out after having their campaigns immediately shut down in March.
Unfortunately for Vincent, the rest of the NFL executives and the vast majority of season ticket holders, the 2020 regular season never did include any games in full stadiums. But there were games—all of them, in fact. Yes, while the other leagues had to shorten their seasons, it never came to that for the NFL. OK, so there were no OTAS during the spring and training camps that were closed to the public in the summer. As for the regular season, there were postponements, countless players who missed weeks because of the virus, altered byes and some would say even lost byes (well, only Steelers fans would say that), but no games were totally canceled due to the pandemic.
I realize that whole bye issue is a sore spot for the Steelers and their fans. In fact, if you were really paying attention during CBS’s Super Bowl LV telecast involving the Buccaneers and Chiefs—and it would have been understandable if you weren’t, given the lopsided nature of the game—you may have blown your stack when you heard Jim Nantz and Tony Romo talking about how a Tampa team that was 7-5 and struggling late in the year got its act together during a much-needed bye in early December and never lost another game all the way through the big one.
Hey, I get it, but according to most of their critics, the Steelers struggles down the stretch of the 2020 campaign were caused by any number of defects, including inept coaching, Ben Roethlisberger’s inept arm, logo dancing, TikTok videos and, of course, an earlier than expected bye.
A list so long makes it really hard to choose.
As for me, I’m thankful the NFL was able to start and finish its 2020 season all the way through the Super Bowl.
The 2020 NFL season wasn’t one of my favorites—even when the Steelers were sitting at 11-0—but it was one of the few things in life that was allowed to feel as close to normal as possible last year.
And that was much needed.
Great job, NFL!