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NFL monitoring smoke from fires, postponement of Cowboys opener at Rams is possible

Moving the game could be an option as well.

Poor Air Quality over Los Angeles due to the Bobcat and the El Dorado fires.
The smoke in LA on Saturday.
Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

As a major disaster continues to rage in the form of wildfires affecting the entire west coast of the US, the Dallas Cowboys may be directly affected. They are scheduled to play their first game of the season at the Los Angeles Rams, but heavy smoke from the unprecedented fires could make the air quality so bad that the Sunday night game could be postponed or moved. From an NFL press release:

Should there be a sustained poor air-quality level of 200 or above the game could be affected. Per the Air Quality Index, an unhealthy air-quality level score is between 151-200.

If the game needs to be delayed, options are moving it to later in the week or relocating. That decision would come from the league.

The game was intended to be the first played at SoFi Stadium, home to both the Rams and the Chargers. Unlike AT&T Stadium, SoFi does not have doors that can effectively seal off outside air, with basically unrestricted airflow under the translucent dome.

While getting a football game in on schedule pales in comparison to the tragedy unfolding in the western states, it would still be highly disappointing for fans of the Cowboys. The NFL has done a very effective job of navigating the COVID situation. There is a bitter irony that another crisis could disrupt the first game for Sunday Night Football.

As far as what might be done, the options that seem to be considered feasible would be delaying to Monday or Tuesday, and/or moving the game. It could be played in AT&T stadium, or possibly moved to State Farm Stadium (the new name for the Arizona Cardinals’ home.) The first is probably more likely, although we have no idea what the league could opt for.

It is all a developing situation, and one we will monitor, of course. The best thing by far would be for the fires to abate and the smoke to clear, and that has little to do with football. That is out of our control, so we have to see how events unfold and the NFL responds.

[UPDATE] The Cowboys departed on schedule for the game.