Sportress of Blogitude

Falcons’ Alex Mack notes key issue with playing in empty stadiums

Should the NFL be able to stick to its stated plan and play the 2020 season as planned and on schedule, games will almost certainly be played in stadiums mostly devoid of fans, at least at the onset.

Beyond the surreality of watching telecasts of games held in empty stadiums and the absence of a typical gameday environment, Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack recently voiced an interesting concern that specifically impacts him as a player and offenses overall.

“I’d be concerned with people hearing my calls,” Mack said during a recent virtual conference call shared by Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “I don’t want that recorded and let the opposing team next week hear everything we say because then every week we have to change every code word, term, line call we’ve ever used and that, to me, is annoying and so I don’t want to do that. But I like the idea of finding new ways to entertain people and add like the second level of sports viewing for people at home because it’s all we have.”

The logistics involved in making good on the NFL’s rigid stance that the 2020 season will go off without a hitch remain in flux and unresolved. That in and of itself is an arguably dubious notion at this stage in light of the uncertainties inherent to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

NFL teams are already preparing to play games with far fewer fans in attendance at a minimum, so odds are stadiums will feature a far more sterile environment. Fans — not to mention players, as Mack used the term “flat” to describe such a setup — have grown accustomed to a frenetic, energized scene on gamedays.

That being said, at least one team envisions having some fans in the stands during games this coming season.

It would be premature at this point to predict how things will play out over the course of the next few months, but one thing that arguably is certain is that NFL teams will encounter game settings and conditions unseen in the history of the league.