In four weeks and one day, it’s coming. And it has a name.
July 31 will be known as “Back Together Saturday” for the NFL, via Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal.
Per Fischer, that’s the name for the league’s next tentpole event. But the NFL needs the teams to buy in. Some will, some likely won’t.
The league has asked teams to “host a sizable fan event” on that day, with the “head coach, GM, owner or player . . . speak[ing] to the crowd.” The NFL also recommends “musical entertainment, fan games and contests, a spirit squad/mascot, area youth/high school football engagement, legends appearances, celebrity influencers, honoring frontline workers, and data capture efforts.”
It’s not a mandate, Fischer explains, but an outline. The NFL wants a league-wide celebration aimed at creating media coverage and, in turn, fan interest.
One issue, as noted by Fischer, is that most teams will still be in the early-camp acclimation period, with not a whole lot of football practice going on. Then there’s the ongoing pandemic and the COVID protocols, which prompted the league to (for example) prevent the Steelers from going back to Latrobe for camp.
Peter King first mentioned the possibility of an early-camp happening in April. At that point, the league targeted July 27 or July 28. Someone apparently has since realized it’s better to push it to the weekend.
However it plays out, it’s no surprise that the NFL continues to try to find ways to turn nothing into something. Still, it’s hard to imagine this specific something becoming much of anything if it’s not mandatory, if practices aren’t happening, if it’s playing out on a Saturday in late July, and if COVID protocols make it more difficult to do the things that need to be done to make it a big deal.