The 2019 NFL season came to an end just two months ago, but the focus is already on 2020 — not just because of free agency being right around the corner. The first game of the new season has also already been scheduled: as the NFL announced on Tuesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame game will take place on August 6 at Canton’s Tom Benson Stadium and feature the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Steelers and Cowboys — winners of a combined 11 Super Bowls — playing in the first contest of the year is good news for the New England Patriots and 29 other teams in the NFL. After all, they will all not play on Hall of Fame weekend and instead only need to participate in the usual four preseason games instead of the five that Pittsburgh and Dallas will now have to play. Fewer games, of course, means fewer opportunities for injury.
New England will nevertheless likely take a close look at the contest. While neither the Steelers nor Cowboys are on the team’s 2020 schedule, the team’s pro scouting department will try to identify potential trade targets or players who might get picked up after roster cutdown day.
All in all, the Patriots have participated in the Hall of Fame Game three times since it was introduced in 1962:
- 1973: New England Patriots (7) vs San Francisco 49ers (20)
- 1986: New England Patriots (21) at St. Louis Cardinals (16)
- 2000: New England Patriots (20) at San Francisco 49ers (0)
Patriots fans have some fond memories of the last game. Not only did the team shut out the 49ers on the same weekend legendary quarterback Joe Montana was inducted into the Hall of Fame, the contest was also the first with sixth-round rookie quarterback Tom Brady under center.