The National Football League finds itself in quite a perplexing situation doesn’t it? After being rescheduled for Sunday from Thanksgiving night due to positive tests in Baltimore, the League is now dealing with even more positive tests for the Ravens. These include star quarterback Lamar Jackson. So… Based on their actions from earlier this season we should expect the game Sunday to go on. Right?
When the New England Patriots saw quarterback Cam Newton stricken with Covid, they did not receive a reprieve. They pushed ahead valiantly behind Brian Hoyer but lost a close game.
The San Francisco 49ers were forced to play the Green Bay Packers with as many as 13 players sidelined due to the virus. It was easy pickings for Aaron Rodgers as the Packers won big.
Those two examples right there are more than enough to make sure this game is played on Sunday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said that when this unique season was starting that ‘fairness’ would not be part of any equation. The goal in this pandemic was to make sure all games were played. To this point that’s been true and all games have been played.
But where is the ‘fairness’ to the Pittsburgh Steelers? Because of the Tennessee Titans and their Covid situation, the Steelers were forced to take a week four bye rather than the week eight bye they had been assigned. OK, I get it. This year is in fact unique and well, shit happens.
But when evidence surfaced that the Titans had violated protocols by getting together away from the facility, my empathy went out the window. Not only did the Steelers lose their mid-season bye but they were forced to play three straight road games. It’s terrific that they won them but that’s a tall task for any team.
The Ravens have to this point had as many if not more cases than the Titans did. They’ve already admitted they failed to follow league wide protocol when they disciplined (allegedly) their strength coach.
To make matters worse, we now sit here along with the Steelers’ players wondering what the NFL will do. Whether they choose to cancel, forfeit or create a week 18 game is fine but letting the Steelers Organization know sooner rather than later would go a long ways towards equal fairness which suddenly seems to be something the league cares about.
So What to Do?
The NFL needs to make a decision and that decision should be to play the game Sunday. If the Patriots can be forced to play without their starting quarterback then why can’t the Ravens?
There’s a reason the NFL expanded practice squads and now allow teams to call up such players with as little as 90 minutes before kickoff. These rules were designed with exactly a situation like Baltimore’s in mind.
The only other option is a forfeit. To add an 18th week is wrong especially when you consider you’re dealing with a Steelers team that is currently unbeaten. But that’s not even the point. The Ravens messed up. Not the Steelers and precedent already dictates what needs to be done but will the NFL do that?
I’m not holding my breath.