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Alex Mack’s concerns about fan-less stadiums are the most logical we’ve heard yet

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The veteran center is entering perhaps his final year in Atlanta, and it promises to be a weird one.

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Alex Mack is a potential—even probable—Hall of Famer. His career won’t be over after the 2020 season, but it may be his final year in Atlanta, and it’s certainly a weird one given everything that’s going on in the world. In between praising Chris Lindstrom (we’ll talk more about that later) and talking about his desire to play a long time, Mack touched on just how weird this upcoming season will be.

Specifically, he talked about the possibility of playing in a stadium with no fans. Our chief concern with that has been what a bummer that would be for fans, who pony up big money to watch their team win or lose, and more often lose. While that’s our chief concern, Mack noted that it would be weird to play in front of no fans, kind of nice on the road, and would carry major questions.

This will likely come to naught, because the NFL is even now exploring ways to pipe in crowd noise, as deeply annoying as that is given the Falcons’ past penalties for doing just that. But if they don’t find an effective way, the idea that offenses could accidentally reveal their calls to opposing defenses would certainly be a problem. It’s good that Mack is already thinking about these sorts of things, should they become a factor, because that’s his job as a leader on this offense and maybe the most vital man on the offensive line. The Falcons kept Mack despite the obvious cap savings because he’s still an extremely capable offensive lineman and because he’s a leader, and leaders are going to be even more vital in a year like this.

Mack’s comments touch on the edges of the many, many issues the league will have to grapple with in a pandemic universe. They are beyond our ability to fully understand or elucidate at the moment, but I’m still thankful to have players like Mack who are thinking through what’s next and how to combat it.