With the exception of the rescheduling of the Tennessee Titans versus Pittsburgh Steelers game in week four due to a number of Titans' players testing positive for COVID-19, the NFL has managed to pull off the first quarter of the season amid the pandemic pretty well all things considered. Of course, strict protocols were laid out ahead of the season to try and prevent the spread of the virus, which included how many fans could be in attendance. Several stadiums began their seasons with no fans in the stands, doing their best to replicate the live game day experience with crowd noise pumped in through the PA system. Some of those stadiums are still in the "no fans" stage, and may be for the foreseeable future, while others have gradually begun to allow a few more fans to be in the building to cheer on their favorite team. The Indianapolis Colts first home game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings on September 20th allowed 2,500 fans, and was bumped up to 7,500 one week later when the team hosted (and dominated, if I may add) the New York Jets. That number is set to jump again for their next home game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, October 18th.

Owner Jim Irsay tweeted Thursday afternoon that he had been given permission to increase the number of fans another 5,000 to 12,500.

While Irsay doesn't specify who gave him "permission," my assumption would be the either the Marion County Health Department, Indiana State Health Department, or both. The revised Phase 5 of Governor Eric Holcomb's Back on Track plan requires anyone organizing an event with 500 or more people to submit their plan in writing to their local Health Department for approval before proceeding with said event. Clearly millionaire NFL owners are not exempt from that mandate.

Despite moving the total number just past the five-digit range, for a stadium that can hold a maximum capacity of 70,000, it will still feel and look pretty empty, but it's better than none. Baby steps, I suppose.

Tickets for the game, which will feature this year's number one overall pick, Quarterback Joe Burrows, under center for the Bengals, are on sale now through Ticketmaster with kick off set for Noon Evansville time, 1:00 p.m. eastern.

[Source: Jim Irsay on Twitter]

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