Quarterback Brett Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, and the Packers have earned a spot in the preseason Hall of Fame game, facing off against the Indianapolis Colts who will see their beloved former head coach Tony Dungy inducted.
The Pittsburgh Steelers played in the Hall of Fame game in 2015 after their star running back Jerome Bettis rode into Canton and enjoyed an induction in front of seemingly countless Steelers fans. Unfortunately for the Steelers, the Hall of Fame game was anything but triumphant. En route to their dismal 14-3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Steelers also lost their kicker Shaun Suisham to a season-ending knee injury, an incident that ultimately gave Josh Scobee the starting job, but not before first-choice backup Garrett Hartley also saw his season end due to injury. Let's face it: The field in Canton is arguably worse than the turf at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, where the 49ers play. In other words, it is a hazard to players.
While the Packers and Colts will enjoy a meaningful Hall of Fame enshrinement, the extra preseason game is often accompanied by injury and disappointment. Was Suisham's injury worth the extra snaps for backup quarterback Landry Jones? The extra practice did not lead to a particularly impressive season for Jones, who was often the subject of ridicule and disdain, failing, with few exceptions, to re-establish momentum after a devastating injury to Ben Roethlsiberger and a particularly horrible episode featuring Michael Vick at the helm.
An extra Hall of Fame game could mean more practice for backups and an enthralling event for fans of both the Packers and Colts, whose memories of the enshrinement of two of their favorite heroes will still be fresh. On the other hand, preseason games, as the Steelers know first-hand, can also be the setting for deflating injuries (i.e. Maurkice Pouncey).
Even if both teams stay healthy, a victory in the preseason is largely irrelevant and can give fans a false sense of hope. After all, the Philadelphia Eagles only lost one preseason game, while the Arizona Cardinals finished 2-2, the same record as the horribly inept San Francisco 49ers, whose regular season was an embarrassment.
While the Packers and Colts enjoy the spotlight during the Hall of Fame weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers can rest easy, knowing that at least they are immune from the injury bug for an extra week, and as the Colts and Packers face off in Canton under less-than-ideal conditions.