NFL Hall of Fame 2017

If you’re really into that sort of thing, you can flip over to NBC at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday to watch the NFL’s traditional Hall of Fame game preseason opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. It’s ostensibly an NFL game featuring NFL-like action, and the start of a new season is something to celebrate, if you’re into that sort of thing.http://livewatchgame.com/nfl/

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On Saturday, the Class of 2017 will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who: Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals

What: 2017 Hall of Fame Game

Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio

When: Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017

Time: 8 p.m. Eastern

TV: NBC

Livestream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Just don’t expect to learn anything about what either team will look like when the regular season starts next month.

On Tuesday, Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians announced that not one of his starters will take the field Thursday in Canton, Ohio. Neither will his second-string quarterback nor the veteran cornerback whom the team signed on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett played coy when asked if he would publicly follow Arians’s lead, but his thinking on the matter is clear.

“I will not make that declaration right now,” he said.

Garrett rarely plays his first-stringers in Dallas’s preseason opener, even during seasons in which the team only has four such exhibitions (by virtue of their Hall of Fame game participation, each team gets five this year). Quarterback Dak Prescott started last year’s preseason opener, true, but at the time it was assumed he’d be Tony Romo’s backup. Romo also sat out preseason openers in 2015, 2014 and 2013, which was the last time Dallas appeared in the Hall of Fame game.

Both coaches’ reluctance to play their starters isn’t because of the field issues that doomed last year’s Hall of Fame game to cancellation, either. 2016’s game was supposed to be played on a temporary field while the stadium was being renovated; this year, the permanent field has been installed and reportedly is in good shape. But a nondangerous field isn’t reason enough for any starters to risk injury in a meaningless game that exists solely as a reminder that the NFL, at some point soon, will be returning in earnest.