(CNN) — The National Football League is inviting 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to be among the 22,000 fans in attendance at Super Bowl LV next month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday.
“I am the son of a nurse and all of you have a very special place in my heart,” Goodell said during a surprise video conference with health care workers at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida. “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.”
“I want to personally invite each member of your team … to be our guest at the Super Bowl,” Goodell then told the excited hospital workers, some wiping away tears.
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,” according to a press release.
“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.
The statement did not mention a timetable for when tickets will be available to the general public.
Super Bowl LV is scheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, February 7.
The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will represent the American Football Conference. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will represent the National Football Conference. Tampa Bay will become the first team in history to play the Super Bowl at home.
The league said health care workers will be recognized with planned tributes in the stadium and during the 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. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings,” Goodell said.
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