The Journal Gazette
Saturday, January 23, 2021 1:00 am

NFL notebook

7,500 health care workers to get Super Bowl tickets

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The NFL announced Friday that 7,500 health care workers vaccinated for the coronavirus will be given free tickets to next month's Super Bowl to be played in Tampa, Florida.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also said in a news release that attendance at the Feb. 7 game would be limited to those workers and about 14,500 other fans. Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a capacity of just under 66,000, according to its website.

Most of the health care workers who will get free game tickets will come from the Tampa Bay area and central Florida, Goodell said. But he added that all 32 NFL teams will choose some workers from their cities to attend the game.

As with NFL games throughout the season, the Super Bowl will include mandatory wearing of masks, social distancing, touchless concession stands and controlled entry and exits. The NFL had about 1.2 million fans attend 116 games during the regular season and playoffs, Goodell said.

Early entry draft list revealed

Ohio State junior quarterback Justin Fields is among 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL into the league's draft, while national championship-winning QBs Mac Jones from Alabama and Trevor Lawrence from Clemson are among another 30 players eligible after completing their degrees and deciding not to play more in college.

Those 128 players, plus three more who inquired about their draft status but didn't need special eligibility, were on the NFL's official list released Friday as available to be drafted after giving up their remaining college eligibility. The 131 total players is 11 more than last year, but still below the record 132 two years ago.

As for those 98 players granted special eligibility without yet finishing their degrees, that was one fewer than last year and the lowest total since 95 in 2017. Southern California has the most players leaving early for the NFL draft with six. Stanford and Ohio State matched Alabama with five each.

The draft is April 29-May 1 in Cleveland.

Extra points

Tampa Bay activated nose tackle Vita Vea (ankle) from the reserve/injured list and will be available Sunday against Green Bay. Coach Bruce Arians also said that receiver Antonio Brown, who had been day-to-day with a knee injury, will not play in the NFC title game. ... Buffalo wide receiver Gabriel Davis (ankle) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (thigh) were listed as questionable for the AFC title game at Kansas City on Sunday. Buffalo's two top receivers Stephon Diggs (oblique muscle) and Cole Beasley (knee) were both full participants in Friday's practice. ... Washington hired Martin Mayhew as general manager. ... Pittsburgh tight end Vance McDonald is retiring after eight seasons. ... Former Detroit coach Matt Patricia will return to New England to assist the Patriots' coaching staff.

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