No matter how much fake crowd noise, how many banners or how many cardboard cut-outs teams put in the stands, sports are just not quite the same without fans. Now, with the National Football League playoffs set to kick off this weekend, there are sure to be some classic moments that take place in the hush of a massive stadium – but not if New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton can help it.
As Payton’s heavily-favored team gets set to take on the Chicago Bears at the Superdome on Sunday afternoon, the former Coach of the Year had a wild proposal to allow 50,000 Saints fans into the game, which would destroy the highest single game attendance of 2020 set by the Dallas Cowboys. He shared his plan with reporters this week – an idea that even he had to think was ridiculous as it was coming out of his mouth.
“I brought up the idea of testing 50,000 people and quarantining them in a hotel and having the most safest Superdome known to man, scientifically,” he said, per Luke Johnson of The New Orleans Advocate. “Bus them, they’ve tested every day, and you’ve got a COVID-free facility.”
Let’s get this straight, the coach of a team that has struggled with COVID-19, including most recently when the team’s star running back who was seen maskless at a nightclub prior to his positive testing, wants to shove 50,000 people in hotels for a while for some playoff crowd noise? Has he even seen the struggle throughout this country with getting people to comply with mandates? Getting that many people to follow seems impossible.
While Johnson admitted in his tweet that he believes Payton mentioned the idea in jest, that’s not the case according to Pro Football Talk, which claims the organization explored plans that would allow for more fans in the Superdome. Figuring out an option makes sense, since the Saints are 7-2 when hosting a playoff game under Sean Payton. The Saints also previously kicked around the idea of playing home games at Louisiana State University’s outdoor stadium, to get even just a few more butts in the seats.
For now, Payton and the Saints will have to settle for the 3,000 fans currently allowed.