As 49ers tight end George Kittle said last week, there’s a silver lining to the prospect of playing games without fans, specifically when the time comes to play in places like Seattle or New Orleans.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins took it a step farther on Tuesday when discussing the possibility that all or part of the 2020 season will entail games without folks in the stands cheering or booing the performances of the players.
“Honestly, we practice every day in an empty grass area and pump in fake crowd noise for away games,” Cousins said on a conference call, via ESPN.com. “But more often than not, you’re used to it. OTA practices don’t have a lot of pomp and circumstance to them. So honestly to go out and just play the game would kind of be refreshing, a breath of fresh air, to just let us know that we don’t have to have all the smoke and the fire, we can just play football. So as long as we’re playing the game, I won’t have a lot of complaints, and hopefully if it’s still not returned to normal, we can find a way to make it work.”
Plenty of players thrive on the energy that comes from playing before a crowd. Others would prefer silence, and those players will have a benefit in 2020, if games happen without all the ambient noise.
The Vikings go to both Seattle and New Orleans this year, so the absence of raucousness would help Cousins run the offense without a silent count or other devices that erase the advantage that the offense otherwise has thanks to the split-second before the defense reacts to the start of the play. Of course, Minnesota’s defense would sacrifice that same edge in its eight home games, where the noise at U.S. Bank Stadium can make it impossible for the opposing offense to operate.