Goodell reiterates plan for full stadiums: 'Fans want to come back'
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continues to hope stadiums league-wide will be full for the 2021 season.
"This year, we're comfortable that local regulations are going to allow us to have fans at all 32 stadiums," Goodell told Judy Battista of NFL Network. "We'll still be smart. We're still going to be willing to adapt. We're still going to do everything to make sure our fans are safe when they're there. But we expect full stadiums.
"You know, the fans want to come back. That's the No. 1 thing we hear. We're seeing that in our ticket sales. Fans just want to be a part (of) and have that collective experience. Doing that around an NFL game is fine."
Stadium capacities were limited in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Goodell said in March that he expected NFL fans to be able to attend games as normal.
The league allowed 25,000 people to attend Super Bowl LV at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Raymond James Stadium, including 7,500 vaccinated health care workers.
The NFL has introduced new rules while continuing its push to increase the vaccination rate among players. Now any game that can't be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players will result in the responsible club forfeiting the contest.
The league announced Thursday that 87.9% of players have received at least one vaccination shot.
Goodell said he believes players are realizing the benefits of being vaccinated.
"The step we feel is most important is to keep our players and all personnel safe," said Goodell. "We've been consistent on this in the offseason. Vaccinations are the best way to do that. We have worked hard to educate all of our personnel and make sure that they have the right facts.
"I think the increasing numbers are indicating with people getting more comfortable, understanding better that they are effective, that they are safe and that they are the best to keep yourself and your family and everyone around you safe."
Goodell added that he expects "very limited disruptions to the season" compared to the 2020 campaign.