Commissioner Roger Goodell might not think some teams having fans in the stands while others can’t creates a competitive advantage.
The richest of his bosses disagrees.
Via Joe Person of TheAthletic.com, Panthers owner David Tepper bemoaned the possibility of empty seats in his building if the Falcons, Buccaneers, and Saints allow fans in.
“It’s hard not to have fans in the building, especially going to be hard not to have fans in the building if all our division rivals have fans in their buildings,” Tepper said. “We hope that we will have it, and not have that competitive disadvantage.”
The Panthers will play in front of an empty house in their opener on Sept. 13 against the Raiders, but no decisions have been made beyond that game. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is expected to keep his state in its current phase of reopening which limits outdoor gatherings until Oct. 2, two days before the second Panthers home game against the Cardinals.
The Saints have gotten state approval to have fans at their second home game on Sept. 27, but that plan is still awaiting local clearance.
The Buccaneers announced they’d have no fans for the first two home games, and the Falcons are likewise closed for business through September. But Georgia and Florida have taken a decidedly more lenient stances to opening up their states than North Carolina has.
“Listen, it’s just a question of how the different regions are and what they view and how the different governors are and such, and maybe how much they like football or not,” Tepper said with a laugh. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
He may have played it off as a joke, but it seems clear that he’s not in lockstep with Goodell on the notion of fairness, and he’s not the only one.