The plan is subject to the approval of public health officials, according to the NFL. Goodell revealed the plan in a letter to Tampa’s Super Bowl host committee and said it was discussed during Wednesday’s remote meeting of team owners.
“We discussed an exciting idea to honor health care workers and thank them for their extraordinary service during the pandemic and also promote the importance of vaccination,” Goodell said. “We’re currently discussing with public health officials … our desire to invite the vaccinated health care workers to the Super Bowl as our guests. Subject to the public health officials and their approval, we will do this in a safe and responsible way.”
Super Bowl LV is scheduled for Feb. 7, at Raymond James Stadium. NFL officials said Wednesday they have not set a seating capacity for the game, nor have they decided how many vaccinated health care workers they intend to invite.
“We haven’t landed on a specific capacity yet,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and league events. “We’ll continue to work through that with our medical partners and determine that in the weeks ahead.”
The NFL previously said it was “exploring” the possibility of a seating capacity of around 20 percent.
“I don’t think we should conceive of this as we’re going to be able to pack the stadium with those who have been vaccinated,” Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday. “I think what we’re looking to do is to reward these individuals who have worked so hard and so tirelessly and selflessly throughout this pandemic, and recognize them also for leading us into this important step of vaccination, which is really the next most important phase of the pandemic.”
Goodell and Sills previously said the NFL will make no effort to cut the line to gain access to a vaccine for its personnel. The league has made plans to operate through the Super Bowl based on an assumption that its players, coaches and team staffers will not have been vaccinated by then.
“We’ve said all along that we want to support the public health efforts and we want to amplify those messages which we know are important,” Sills said. “We believe that having people vaccinated for covid-19 is one of those messages … This is another opportunity for us to reinforce those messages as well as to reward those who have been sacrificing so much through all of this. But we would only do it in a way that doesn’t impact their safety of the safety of anyone else who’s involved.”