PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It won’t be the usual roar of the crowd, but even a smattering of cheers will be music to the Eagles’ ears.
On Sunday, the Eagles will take on the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field. And for the first time this season, a limited amount of fans will be allowed in the stadium. The coronavirus pandemic has forced most NFL games to be played in front of empty seats, but teams are slowly starting to ease restrictions.
Carson Wentz and his teammates will be happy to have fan support on Sunday, even if the number of fans is far less than a typical Sunday in South Philadelphia.
“Having fans out there definitely motivates us a little bit more,” said Wentz. “We love playing in front of the fans. Can’t wait until the day that we can really pack that house, but this is a start for sure.”
The capacity is capped at 7,500 people — which includes players, coaches, team and stadium personnel, media, and fans.
The Eagles got their first taste of a game with limited fans last Sunday when they took on the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers allowed a limited amount of fans for the first time in 2020, and the Eagles enjoyed having the fans in the stadium, even though they were cheering for their home team.
“I’m excited,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I’m so glad for this day to be here, to have fans in our stands, to feel the energy of the crowd — even a small crowd. It was really good in Pittsburgh to have the fans there. Just to see them when we come out of the tunnel and to see people in our bleachers, it’s going to be exciting.”
As Wentz said, players have been looking forward to this day. He said these early games without fans have felt like games they played back in high school when scrimmages took place in front of empty bleachers.
“It’s still different,” he said. “It’s still kind of weird not packing the house, but it takes you back to high school scrimmages, middle school scrimmages, when you’re playing in front of no fans. It’s just kind of an eerie feeling out there when it goes silent.”
The silence will surely be eradicated at the Linc Sunday. Even a small crowd is better than no crowd at all for the players.
It’s still hard to fathom a game will a full stadium this season, as the world continues to deal with the pandemic. For now, Pederson and his players will take what they can get.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Pederson said. “We talked about it before: Our players are going to be energized to have them there and to have our families back in the stands. It’s important to them, it’s important to us, and we’re really looking forward to it.”