Rod Wood says Detroit Lions will encourage face coverings for fans at Ford Field

The sports world was turned upside down last year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and professional sports didn't look or feel quite the same without fans in the stands.

Of course, the Detroit Lions and most NFL teams played the 2020 campaign sans any fans (with exceptions for select family members) actually sitting in seats, substituting them for cardboard cutouts and piped-in crowd noise.

The Lions are still planning on hosting fans at Ford Field for the 2021 season amidst complications from the delta variant of COVID-19. And while there are no current plans in place to require only vaccinated fans or providing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test as other sports franchises have recently implemented, the team will still “recommend” fans to wear face coverings.

“We’re still optimistic that we’re gonna have full stadiums all season. Obviously I can’t predict the future,” team president Rod Wood said this afternoon. “We were just on an NFL call and Dr. Sills, the chief medical officer, quoted Yogi Berra that, ‘predictions are very difficult, particular about the future.’ So, I’m not gonna try to outdo that. We hope that we can keep this under control, but we’re not gonna get ahead of the state or local officials on anything. Right now, we’re at masks recommended and encouraged. We’ll do that.”

“If we get mandates beyond that, we’ll follow that as well,” he continued “Right now, we’re gonna hopefully welcome 60,000-plus people here on September 12th.”

It certainly was a different experience for the players as well, and they can already feel the difference with fans in attendance – even if it's only the preseason.

“Yeah, it’s crazy. I think even now, looking back at it. It’s even more crazy,” Frank Ragnow said of last season. “Just the excitement. The energy and the natural adrenaline that fans bring is something that you really can’t take for granted, so it’s been nice. Even in the preseason to feel them.”

– – Quotes via MLive Link – –