The NFL is inviting 7,500 health care workers to Super Bowl LV in Tampa next month to thank them for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All health care workers in attendance will be vaccinated and will receive free tickets to the game as guests of the league. The majority of those workers will come from hospitals and health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area. Commissioner Roger Goodell surprised a team at Sarasota Memorial Hospital to personally invite them to attend the big game at the Buccaneers' Raymond James Stadium.
In addition, all 32 NFL clubs will select vaccinated health care workers from their cities to go to the Super Bowl.
Throughout the game, the league plans to recognize the extraordinary work done by health care workers through a variety of special moments both in the stadium and during the broadcast on CBS.
"These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude," said Goodell. "We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings."
An additional 14,500 fans will be in attendance at the stadium, putting the total number at 22,000. The NFL said it held discussions with the CDC, the Florida Department of Health and area hospitals and health care systems about hosting fans in a safe and responsible way.
The Super Bowl's COVID-19 protocols include mandatory mask-wearing, social-distancing, podded seating, controlled entry and exit and more.
Super Bowl LV will take place on Feb. 7.