CINCINNATI (WAFB) - There were 76,885 fans in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for the final game of Joe Burrow’s Heisman Trophy-winning collegiate career on Jan. 13.
Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State about 20 months prior, would go 31-49, throwing for 463 yards and five touchdowns in No. 1 LSU’s defeat of No. 2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the U.S. seven days later, on Jan. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Nine months later, after COVID-19 spread throughout the U.S., there will be no fans in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati when Burrow begins his NFL career on Sunday, Sept. 13.
Burrow, a native of The Plains, Ohio, has not played in his home state since Nov. 18, 2017. He kneeled the ball twice at the end of Ohio State’s 52-14 victory over Illinois.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued an order on Sept. 5 barring fans from attending the Bengals' season opener. However, Gov. DeWine’s order will allow 3,000 fans to attend the Bengals' second and third home games of the 2020 season. The order requires 1,500 fans, or 15% capacity, be on each side of Paul Brown Stadium.
Burrow’s new in-state rival, the Cleveland Browns, also face the same restrictions on stadium attendance.
The Bengals make up the majority of NFL teams who will not allow fans inside stadiums for their season opener on Sunday. Only the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing spectators at reduced capacity during Week 1. Both teams play in open-air venues.
The seats of Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the venue where Burrow hoisted the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy on Jan. 13, will also be empty when the New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Most NFL teams are not allowing fans for the first few weeks of the season, but some in larger cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C, and New York have announced they will not allow fans at games during the 2020 season.
Burrow’s alma mater announced Wednesday, Sept. 9 that 25% of Tiger Stadium’s seating capacity would be allowed in for the football team’s five home games during the 2020 season. The university’s athletic website lists Tiger Stadium’s seating capacity at 102,321. LSU also announced tailgating, which likely would have been drawn thousands of people wearing Burrow’s LSU and Bengals jerseys to its campus, would not be allowed during the season.
Burrow played his first home game as LSU’s starting quarterback in front of 96,883 fans in Tiger Stadium against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 8, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.
An average of 100,819 fans attended LSU’s home games during the 2018 season, according to LSU’s athletic department. LSU’s average home attendance increased to 100,842 fans during it’s 2019 national championship season, according to the NCAA.
There were 102,218 fans in attendance on Nov. 30, 2019, for Burrow’s final game at Tiger Stadium. In that 50-7 romp of Texas A&M, which avenged LSU’s 74-72 (7 OT) loss the season before, he went 23-32 and threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns before relinquishing his duties to backup Myles Brennan.
Burrow was named one of seven team captains for the Bengals on Sept. 9. The Bengals are scheduled to kick off against the Los Angeles Chargers at 3 p.m. CDT Sunday, Sept. 13. The game will be televised on WAFB-TV.
Click here to report a typo.