If you’re waiting for the 2019 NFL season to start, you might want to go grab a calendar and circle Aug. 1, because that’s when football will officially be returning.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Tuesday that this year’s preseason will be kicking off on Thursday, Aug. 1, when the Broncos play the Falcons in the annual Hall of Fame game. Although the game isn’t usually must-see TV, it could be this year, and that’s because there’s a chance that we could see the debut of Joe Flacco with the Broncos.
Last year’s game gave us the first glimpse of Lamar Jackson on the field with the Ravens. This year’s game, which will be televised by NBC, will kick off at 8 p.m. ET from Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
This a big game for the NFL and that’s because it will be kicking off the league’s 100th anniversary season, something that Falcons coach Dan Quinn is well aware of.
“We are fired up to kick off the NFL’s 100th season in the Hall of Fame Game,” Quinn said. “We are honored to play in Canton and be a part of the celebration for all of the inductees. This is also an opportunity for us to strengthen our connection and our brotherhood with additional time on the field.”
The two teams in the Hall of Fame game are almost always chosen based on their ties to the incoming Hall of Fame class and this year is no exception. The Hall’s 2019 class includes former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, which is a big reason why Atlanta was picked to play in the game.
As for the Broncos, team owner Pat Bowlen and Champ Bailey are both being inducted this year.
“With Mr. Bowlen and Champ Bailey part of this year’s induction class, it’s an honor for the Broncos to play in the Hall of Fame Game,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of Broncos fans in Canton, and it’s also special for us to help kick off the NFL’s 100th season. Football-wise, it gives our team an extra week of training camp and additional practices that we’ll use to our advantage.”
Besides Bowlen, Bailey and Gonzalez, thecontributor Gil Brandt, cornerback Ty Law, center Kevin Mawae, safety Ed Reed and safety Johnny Robinson.
As Fangio mentioned, the two teams playing in the Hall of Fame game get an extra week of practice and that’s because they’re allowed to report to training camp one week earlier than any other team.
The Broncos’ appearance in Canton will mark the first time since 2004 loss to the Redskins that they’ve played in the Hall of Fame game. On the Falcons’ end, this will mark their first trip to Canton since 1994, when they beat the Chargers 21-17.
If you’re looking for more information on the NFL schedule, the league generally releases the preseason schedule in early April followed by the regular season schedule, which is usually released at some point in mid-April.