Dr. Anthony Fauci just revealed some good news for NFL fans. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases spoke to Yahoo Sports on Monday about getting fans back into stadiums. With COVID-19 vaccines on the way, Fauci said there wouldn't be full arenas for NBA games for the 2020-2021 season, but NFL stadiums could be packed with fans when the 2021 season begins.
"Oh, that's possible. I think that's possible," Fauci said. The vaccines could come as early as this month, and Fauci revealed how the process would go in terms of who will receive the vaccines first. “We're gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people [from] the end of December through January, February, March," Fauci said. "By the time you get to the general public, the people who'll be going to the basketball games, who don't have any underlying conditions, that's gonna be starting the end of April, May, June. So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable [with full sports stadiums] – if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don't think we're going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer."
The NFL has handled having fans at stadiums on a team-by-team basis. Some teams will have as many as 20,000 fans like the Dallas Cowboys. Other teams have not had fans at all this season like the Washington Football Team and the Las Vegas Raiders. On Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers welcomed a "limited group" of fans to watch the team beat the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Then there's the San Francisco 49ers who are not allowed to play games at their home stadium due to the rising COVID-19 cases. They will play their remaining home games in Arizona.
"Having an efficacious vaccine in and of itself doesn't get us out of this difficult situation we're in," Fauci stated. "But an efficacious vaccine that's widely utilized could get us to a point where we're really approaching normality." The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the NFL postponing Hall of Fame induction ceremony and canceling the Pro Bowl. The Super Bowl is still a go, but it's uncertain how the league will handle having fans for the biggest event of the year.