Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 27 No. 5
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NFL's First Weekend Amid Pandemic Called Strange, Eerie

Broadcasters benefited from the lack of fan noise masking sounds of the game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Broadcasters benefited from the lack of fan noise masking sounds of the game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Broadcasters benefited from the lack of fan noise masking sounds of the game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Yesterday's Week 1 NFL games "revealed the strange, surreal results of playing professional football during a pandemic," because while games are typically spectacles, yesterday they were "violent chamber pieces," according to Kilgore & Adelson of the WASHINGTON POST. Ravens coach John Harbaugh had T-shirts made that "read BYOE: Bring Your Own Energy, a constant reminder to players that crowd noise will not provide it." Ravens WR Marquise Brown said, "You definitely could hear the defense and hear what they’re calling" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/14). Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians complained the artificial noise pumped into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome yesterday brought "absolutely no energy into the building." He said, "There was no noise. It was like a regular practice with no noise. We've practiced with a lot more noise than that. I was kind of disappointed. I don't think it was fair to the Saints to have it that low, because we could have a decent conversation halfway across the field to somebody. It's not a very good deal. It should be fixed." In Tampa, Eduardo Encina notes the NFL is allowing artificial crowd noise to be "pumped in." He writes the tame noise levels "likely benefited TV broadcasts, which were able to pick up on-field chatter better, but for the excitement and anticipation this game brought, it wasn’t felt inside the dome." Buccaneers QB Tom Brady remarked, “It felt like a scrimmage out there, but obviously it counts" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/14). 

A MAN OF FEW WORDS: Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked to describe the atmosphere inside Gillette Stadium for his team's win over the Dolphins, to which he replied, "Practice." He added, “It’s like scrimmaging the Titans, or scrimmaging Detroit, or scrimmaging the teams that we scrimmage. I mean there were a few fans there, but basically there are no fans there and it’s just competition. There’s some energy from your teammates and your own energy. It is what is. That’s what it’s like out there in practice, there are no fans either" (BOSTON.com, 9/13).

SILENCE REIGNS: In Milwaukee, Ryan Wood writes ambient noise the Vikings were allowed to pipe into U.S. Bank Stadium "hardly was enough to drown out players’ voices." On the field, it "surely had an effect on the game" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/14). Vikings WR Adam Thielen: "There’s just no excitement. There’s just no energy from an outside source.” In St. Paul, Dane Mizutani writes while the piped-in crowd noise "actually did a good job serving as a realistic backdrop for the most part, it paled in comparison to 66,000 screaming fans providing energy on every play." Silence throughout the game was "palpable." The"only thing that could be heard were some muted cheers from the sidelines" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/14). In Minneapolis, Rochelle Olson writes under the header, "Absence Of Fans Inside, Outside U.S. Bank Stadium Makes For Eerily Quiet Opener" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/14).

UNNATURAL: In Detroit, Mitch Albom writes of the artificial noise during Bears-Lions, "If you watched this game on TV at home, you probably heard a steady roar of fan noise. Sounded like the place was going nuts, right? Trust me, it was not. ... Doesn’t that strike you as a bit ... creepy?" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/14). In Rochester, Sal Maiorana used one word to describe a fanless Jets-Bills game in Buffalo: "Surreal" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 9/14). In San Jose, Dieter Kurtenbach wrote the atmosphere in Santa Clara for Cardinals-49ers was "eerie and uncomfortable." One "could go as far as to say it was post-apocalyptic." Kurtenbach: "A 100-year pandemic? Put on your shoulder pads. Unhealthy air because of wildfires raging up and down the West Coast? Strap on that helmet." On TV, the "ferocity of the sport was covered up by that fake crowd noise." The "jarring cracks of hard-plastic collisions was anything but comical" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/14). 

UNKIND WORDSSaints QB Drew Brees: "Even just kind of that little buzz in the stadium that they create in between plays or during the game ... that just feels like a whisper compared to what it normally is" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/14). In Detroit, Benjamin Raven wrote the pumped-in noise was "reminiscent of people chatting during the previews at a movie theater." The pre-recorded noise was "easy to miss during the play-to-play action." But the "silence during injury timeouts and big plays" was not. Raven: "Simply put, the atmosphere was befitting of the year -- quiet, lonely, silent and spaced out" (MLIVE.com, 9/13). In Providence, Eric Rueb writes the "new normal is very quiet" and "creepy" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 9/14).