The National Football League invited 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to be among 22,000 fans to attend Super Bowl LV in February.
On Friday (January 22), NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the news during a surprise video conference with health care workers at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida.
“I am the son of a nurse and all of you have a very special place in my heart,” Goodell said, according to CNN. “I’ve seen the work that you do. My mom used to talk about it all day. It’s just extraordinary work and we owe you our ongoing gratitude.”
He added: “I want to personally invite each member of your team … to be our guest at the Super Bowl.
According to a press release, the NFL made the decision “following discussions with public health officials, including the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and area hospitals and health care systems.”
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“These officials reviewed and provided feedback on the NFL’s comprehensive plans that will enable the league to host fans and the vaccinated health care workers in a safe and responsible way,” the statement added.
It is unclear when tickets will be made available to the general public.
Super Bowl LV is slated to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday, February 7.
This weekend the NFC Championship game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers and AFC Championship between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs will determine which two teams will face off in the Super Bowl. Both games are scheduled for this coming Sunday.
Goodell says health care workers will be recognized during the game with tributes at the stadium and during the live broadcast.
“These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude, we hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes,” he said. “This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings.”