Mark it down. Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Buffalo Bills fans received the news they'd been dreading. New Era Field, the home of the NFL team, will be closed to the public this coming season. And that's just the tip of the Coronavirus-berg.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo released his marching orders for professional sports teams during the state's Phase 4 re-opening during the COVID-19 health crisis. And the rules would seem to contradict the plans of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who last week announced that games this season could include fans.

Here's the full PDF document of New York State guidelines. And here are some of the highlights (or lowlights) that apply to fans, players, personnel, media, and others:

  1. No fans allowed inside stadiums
  2. Fans barred from congregating outside stadiums
  3. Proper spacing mandatory for media on sidelines and broadcasting areas
  4. Six-foot spacing mandatory between all lockers in the locker rooms
  5. Face coverings required for athletes standing/sitting on the sidelines

Let's break these down. Rules #1 and #2 will be the hardest to take for rabid fans, who are accustomed to cheering shirtless at games and grilling, drinking, and diving onto plastic tables with friends at parking lot tailgate parties. They may have to resort to Zoom fandom.

Rule #3 could be a challenge for play-by-play announcers and color commentators who usually work side-by-side. And sideline reporters may have a tougher time conducting interviews while maintaining social distancing. Just imagine:

Pam Oliver: So, Coach, what'd you think of that first half?

Bill Belichick: [Shrugs, points to his ears, walks away]

As for #4, the locker spacing issue may have to be solved by putting some players in separate rooms. Starters in one room, subs down the hall. Kinda like the grown-ups sitting at the main table for Thanksgiving, with another table for the kids.

Then, there's #5. You're telling me we'll be seeing EVERY player on the sideline wearing a mask? All the time? It might become a popular drinking game for those of us watching on TV. We could place wagers on who'd be Most Likely to Be Caught on Camera Not Wearing a Mask. That sound you hear is Vegas oddsmakers drawing up some prop bets.

Let the games begin.

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