Local pandemic restrictions will keep fans out of the Lincoln Financial Field stands in September, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Sunday, but Lurie said he still hopes for “significant” fan attendance later in the season.
“Initially there’s not going to be fans at our games. We have been trying very, very hard to come up with solutions that are safe and innovative in time for the start of the season,” Lurie said. “And we’ve had a lot of really creative and instructive conversations with the state and the city, and that continues on a daily and weekly basis.
“We are hopeful there’s going to be real ways of having significant fans in our stadium pretty soon. Maybe not for September, but after that, and we’re looking at innovative ways of testing, with rapid testing, with point-of-care testing, with home testing. There’s a lot of ways to approach this. We’ve been incredibly proactive, working with companies around the planet to see what they’re up to and whether we can implement testing procedures.”
Lurie was asked about the NFL’s decision to allow some teams to have fans in the stands, if local regulations permit, even if other teams’ stadiums must remain empty. The Eagles are perceived to have one of the league’s best home-field advantages, because of their boisterous fans.
“Yes, maybe there’s an advantage for a team to have 10,000, 20,000 fans, but we’re not going to let that stop us. We embrace the situation. Do we really want those 20,000 fans in wherever it is to be unable to watch their team play because we’re unable to have fans, on the East Coast? I don’t think so,” Lurie said. “Fans are the backbone of the sport. ... I wouldn’t want to sit here and tell you that we’re going to stop those fans in Arizona or wherever it is from attending, if it’s safe there, just because we think there’s some advantage. I’d rather have them enjoy our sport.
“Just as a philosophy here, whatever the pandemic brings, whatever the ramifications are, let’s embrace it completely, and try to win every single football game and go full force ahead.”
Previously in the session with reporters, Lurie said playing the season amid the coronavirus pandemic might require “players playing positions they’ve hardly ever played,” but “the teams that embrace [adaptability] will have some advantage.”
Lurie said he has not laid off any employees. “That’s been a very, very important point for me,” he said. “And I hope it’s never necessary.”
Asked about the economic impact on the team if no fans attend this year, Lurie said it would be significant, but given the overall unemployment rate and the struggles people are having, “I don’t go there.”
Lurie reiterated Sunday that “I thought the social media posts were disgusting and appalling,” when asked about wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s much-discussed July sharing of a fake Hitler quote, from Louis Farrakhan, who has been widely condemned for anti-Semitism.
“I’ve known DeSean for a long time .... He has, I think really understood the ramifications of that appalling post. So far everything we’ve asked him to do to both educate himself and to learn and take action, he’s done completely. I would hope that would continue.”
Lurie said he listened to where Jackson “was coming from.”