Eagles fans return to Linc for preseason opener with new mask mandate in effect

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-16 Thursday night.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers for their preseason opener on Thursday as new mask rules went into effect in the city.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni made his debut on the sideline, replacing Doug Pederson. Pederson was fired in January, less than three years after he led the Eagles to the franchise's only Super Bowl title.

Sirianni has a young QB leading the way in Philly. Jalen Hurts played two series and was a modest 3 of 7 for 54 yards. He hit tight end Zach Ertz over the middle for 34 yards and had receivers drop passes on his next two attempts. The Steelers went on to beat the Eagles 24-16.

On Thursday night, fans and staff at the Linc were masked up in indoor spaces, including elevators and restrooms. The new mandate, which remains in effect until further notice, applies to everyone, even those who are fully vaccinated.

Indoor spaces at the Linc include but are not limited to: Club Lounges (Axalta Club, 52 Club, FOX Bet Lounge, Firstrust Bank Club, Tork Club, Hyundai Club), Club Lobbies and Eagles Indoor Pro Shops (Main, Sections 107, 113 and 125).

"Fans are not required to wear a mask outdoors," the Eagles said in a statement Wednesday. "Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all times unless actively eating or drinking. Fans should bring their own masks to the stadium."



Lincoln Financial Field says fans are not required to wear a mask within suites that have their windows open.

According to the Department of Public Health, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases - especially the delta variant - the city now requires masks be worn inside businesses unless the business requires proof of vaccination.

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"That means everyone in Philadelphia must wear a mask when going into any business or institution, with an exception for those that require vaccinations. Restaurants and bars will need to require masks for all staff and customers, except when people are seated and actively eating and drinking," Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said.

Eagles fans were pretty happy with the return of football and tailgating.

"It's good to be out again," said Tom Hadderly of North Philadelphia.

It felt like old times again with tailgates filled with the energy of a crowd about to see the live-action in person.

Bilal Bakr of Camden thinks the Lombardi Trophy will be hoisted once again in Philly.

"It's our year right now. We're bringing back another Super Bowl to the city," said Bakr.

The dangerous heat wave didn't seem to impact the fans outside the stadium. Barron Peirceson hooked up a generator to help cool off.

"I'm an industrial electrician. I work in this heat every day, so I'm gonna come proper you know that: tent, fans, generator," said Peirceson.

The new mask mandate also means city businesses, including those in South Philly will require you to mask up or prove you've been vaccinated.

To prove vaccination status, people will need to carry their vaccination card or a photo of the card.

Health officials also said that unseated outdoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people are required to have everyone masked.

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Philadelphia Acting Health Commissioner Bettigole announces new mask mandate.



Like the Eagles games at the Linc, people sitting outside at a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park will not need to be masked since fans are seated. Everyone must wear a mask in indoor spaces at Citizens Bank Park, too.

As for the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, you will have to wear a mask at indoor concerts and shows if vaccine proof isn't mandated for all.
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Last year, the NFL scrapped the entire preseason schedule due to COVID-19.

Eagles fans were eager to see Hurts at the helm, though head coach Nick Sirianni has not officially named him the starting QB.

"One of the things we have to our advantage is that nobody knows what we're running," Sirianni said before the game.

Hurts, a second-round draft pick last year, was 1-3 last season with an injury-depleted team that finished 4-11-1. He completed 52% of his passes for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions. He also ran for 354 yards and three TDs.

So far, Sirianni has made a good impression with his players.

Veteran defensive end Brandon Graham prior to the game, "Nick came in, he reminded me of myself- that's how I want to come in. Let these boys know each and every day this is what you got. This is what you're getting. I'm going to hold you accountable."

CALL TO THE HALL

Offensive linemen Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas are this year's selections for the Eagles Hall of Fame. They will be inducted Oct. 14, when the Eagles host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Runyan and Thomas started a franchise record 134 regular-season games together from 2000-2008. During that stretch, they helped lead the Eagles to seven playoff appearances, five division titles, five conference championship game appearances, and a berth in the Super Bowl.

NEXT UP

The Eagles host the Patriots next Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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DeVonta Smith's injury could delay the offense taking off once the games actually matter.

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