NFL running out of options for fitting in games amid pandemic

By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Football

Can an entire league be flagged for delay of game?

The NFL announced Monday evening that Baltimore-Pittsburgh — a game that was supposed to take place on Thanksgiving night — was bumped for a fourth time, to Wednesday night, a day the league hasn't played on in eight years.

NBC had to shoehorn in the game, which will kick off at 3:40 p.m. EST because of the network's commitment to broadcasting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

The Ravens are dealing with one of the biggest virus outbreaks of any sport, one that has sidelined at least 18 players, 10 of whom are starters, including starting quarterback Lamar Jackson and running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins.

At least one Baltimore player has tested positive for nine consecutive days, prompting the NFL to cancel the team's morning practice to make sure the inferno wasn't still raging.

"These decisions were made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts," the NFL said in a statement.


Last week, the Ravens disciplined a team employee for lapses that almost certainly contributed to the outbreak. According to multiple reports, the team suspended strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders for failing to report coronavirus symptoms, and not consistently wearing a face covering or tracking device.

With positive case numbers rising across the country, the NFL ordered all team facilities closed on Monday and Tuesday, except for teams playing on those days. The Ravens gathered for practice on both Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, but had to call off the sessions when they did not get approval from the league.

Ravens players voiced concerns Monday with the NFL Players Association, pointing to mixed messages they were getting from the league — that it wasn't OK for them to gather or practice, but it was fine for them to fly together on a plane to Pittsburgh and play a game.

That paved the way for the NFL to once again postpone the game, from Tuesday to Wednesday.


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