NFL Hall of Fame Game 2021: Date, time, teams, more

The 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees are ready to be enshrined, but they will have to wait till after the conclusion of the NFL Hall of Fame game. When and where is the exhibition being held, who is competing, and what is the event’s history? We got you covered with all that and more!

When and where is the 2021 NFL Hall of Fame game?

The 2021 Hall of Fame game will kick off the preseason with the Dallas Cowboys matching up with the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 5 at 8:00 PM ET. It will be a battle two years in the making as Dallas and Pittsburgh were scheduled to face off in the 2020 Hall of Fame game before the NFL postponed it due to the evolving pandemic. Currently, the league allows fans to attend the event at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Who is playing in the Hall of Fame game?

This year will see the Cowboys and Steelers in the annual event, but how and why were they chosen?

Hall of Fame participants, along with the Hall of Fame newcomers, are announced Super Bowl week. Frequently, the teams selected have a former famed player, coach, or owner being inducted to the Hall to maximize intrigue in the occasion and draw as large an audience as possible.

From 1971 to 2010, the matchups for each game included one team from each conference (AFC and NFC). However, this trend stopped in 2011 and transitioned to choosing teams with a distinguished alumnus being inducted that year.

History of the Hall of Fame game

The first Hall of Fame game was played in 1962 between the New York Giants and the then St. Louis Cardinals. The game unceremoniously ended in a 21-21 tie. The most recent bout occurred in 2019 as the Denver Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons 14-10. The postponement of 2020 is not the first time a year went by without a Hall of Fame game happening. In fact, there have been two other cancellations as well as two contests that ended early.

Early endings and cancellations

In 1980, with 5:29 left, the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers left the field and did not return due to severe storms. In 2003, the Packers were a part of the only other early termination with the Kansas City Chiefs. As 5:49 remained on the clock in the third quarter, officials called the game due to lightning and heavy rain.

The first cancellation took place in 2011 because of the NFL lockout. The second happened in 2016 as the league deemed the field unfit for the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts to play. Lastly, and most recently, the NFL postponed 2020’s bout with the ongoing global situation taking place.

Most appearances, most wins, and more

The Steelers and Cowboys own the most appearances with six each since 1962 and will make their seventh this season, barring outside issues. All 32 teams have played in the Hall of Fame game at least once. Yet, there are only four teams who haven’t played more than that.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers played each other in their debut season in 1995 and have yet to return to Canton. The Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens have also only been to the Hall of Fame once. The Texans appeared in 2002, and the Ravens finally made their first appearance in 2018.

The Washington Football Team holds the most wins with five. Five teams, on the other hand, have never won the Hall of Fame game — the Texans, Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and Los Angeles Chargers.

The longest drought without a Hall of Fame appearance belongs to the Detriot Lions. They have not participated in the event since 1991 (27 years). On top of the Lions, there are seven teams who have not challenged in the event this century. The New York Jets (1992), Chargers (1994), Jaguars (1995), Panthers (1995), Seattle Seahawks (1997), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1998), and Cleveland Browns (1999) have not played in the 2000s.

List of Hall of Fame games since 2010

2010 – Cowboys 16, Bengals 7
2011 – Canceled due to NFL lockout
2012 – Saints 17, Cardinals 10
2013 – Cowboys 24, Miami 20
2014 – Giants 17, Bills 13
2015 – Vikings 14, Steelers 3
2016 – Canceled due to field conditions
2017 – Cowboys 20, Cardinals 18
2018 – Ravens 17, Bears 16
2019 – Broncos 14, Falcons 10
2020 – Postponed due to COVID-19

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James Fragoza is a Writer and News Editor at Pro Football Network. You can read his other work here and follow him on Twitter @JamesFragoza.


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