The NFL is planning to play their regular season in 2020, but whether fans will be in attendance has yet to be determined. The Steelers told season ticket holders if they can host fans, they won't be filling the stadium, and will require masks on attendees. However, there is still a chance fans won't be permitted into games as cases of coronavirus continue to spike in certain areas in the country.
Thoughts of what empty stadiums will certainly be different, and can also bring with it new wrinkles. Will there be a home-field advantage outside of not having to travel? Will 'Renegade' by Styx be played to an empty stadium?
All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt was asked about just that during an interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.
"It'll be ridiculous but it doesn't matter the circumstances, man. If football is being played, we're going to be out there and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be flying around, I guarantee you that." Watt said.
Has not having fans in seats even crossed his mind while training this offseason?
"I've briefly thought about it, but not too much (playing without fans). Me? I'm just getting prepared to play football. It doesn't matter if there are fans in the stands or if they're not, obviously, it's going to be an adjustment period for all of us. I would love to have fans there, but if they're not there because of safety, safety always comes first when it comes to the players and to the fans so, we're just going to have to adjust and adapt and play as best as we possibly can with the circumstances that we're dealt."
The Steelers' defense is about to embark on a pass-rushing journey which could redefine pass-rushing prowess within the franchise.
Since 2016, the Steelers have tallied 50+ sacks every season.
If this unit puts up 50-plus sacks in 2020, it would be the first time in team history a defense has recorded 50-plus in four straight seasons. Throughout the offseason the defense has been putting in the extra work which has them on track to get the job done.
Fans in the seats won't dampen Watt's excitement for the upcoming season. Outside of the hopes of a championship season, he will be joined by brother Derek for the first time as a professional. He told his side of the story, with the Steelers signing Derek Watt.
"I kind of knew that coach Tomlin and (special teams coordinator) Danny Smith were interested in him and really enjoyed his playing style when he was with the Chargers. We played them twice in the past few years, they would always say something like, 'Derek's playing some good football.' I always thought it was just being nice and complimentary but at my exit meeting, coach Tomlin kind of said that he wanted to look into Derek more and understood that he was a free agent."
After that, Watt hadn't heard anything until the deal was finalized.
"So, when Derek told me that they finally pulled the trigger and offered him a contract, I was like, 'Man, this is the place where you want to be. The people are great and the city of Pittsburgh, the coaching staff is phenomenal, I think it's a really good fit.' Then I told him just not to live too close to me because I'll get annoyed with him pretty quickly."
Derek recently told how his agents hid the fact the Steelers were interested in him, but no matter the how or why, the Watt brothers will be in Pittsburgh ready to make a difference in the coming years, whether fans will be in seats or not in 2020.
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