The coronavirus has caused all sports to become very different, however most sports have fully gotten through at least one season without having to go to a complete shutdown. This can be attributed to strict protocols, and in some cases, a bubble where the players are only allowed to stay in a confined area. The National Basketball Association (NBA) was extremely successful because of the bubble in Orlando, FL and Major League Baseball (MLB) was very good when the playoffs occurred by limiting travel to specific areas of Texas. When the National Football League (NFL) was set to start it seemed as if it would go well, considering the NFL had even more time to plan than the other leagues. However, as the league is finishing up week 12 of the season, it seems apparent that the NFL’s plan was in fact very poor.
The basics to the NFL’s plan was to increase the size of the rosters and make sure that everyone is getting tested daily, according to an article by SportingNews. However, the article includes a section that says that they were expecting players to test positive. Due to the lack of restrictions for the players when it comes to travel and time outside of football, the number of cases has begun to rise. This can be attributed to the lack of restrictions, in general, the spike in cases in the country, the lack of mask wearing from coaches and the lack of mask wearing from the players. According to NFL.com, earlier in the 2020 NFL season, five coaches were fined $100 thousand for not wearing a mask during a game. Ultimately the coaches put on masks, but it is very evident that this fine did not change all players’ and coaches’ points of view about wearing masks. When watching games, you can see not all players are wearing masks. Due to the rules in place, not all players are required to wear masks, however they are required to wear masks when traveling to and from games. Apparently, that rule has not been consistent.
On Nov. 28, the Denver Broncos were in an unfortunate situation. According to The Guardian, all four of the Broncos quarterbacks were ruled out for the game on Nov. 29 because quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive. The first thought is, why would all the quarterbacks be ruled out if only one of them officially tested positive? However, contact tracing found that all four quarterbacks were in close contact and were not wearing masks, causing them to be ruled out. Ultimately, they started undrafted wide receiver Kendall Hinton who had played some quarterback in college. The Broncos lost badly to the New Orleans Saints the next day 3-31. Hinton completed only one pass for 13 yards and threw two interceptions.
The Baltimore Ravens were in a similar situation when a large portion of their main roster was moved to their reserve list as many of the players on the main roster tested positive for COVID-19. According to Yahoo Sports, this list consisted of 22 players on the main roster, with one of them being the reigning MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Due to the huge influx of positive cases, the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Baltimore Ravens that was set to be primetime on Thanksgiving day was moved to Dec. 1. However, according to a tweet from NFL insider Ian Rapoport, after further consideration, the game was once again moved back one more day to Dec. 2. As of Nov. 30, the Ravens will be missing 12 players including their starting quarterback Lamar Jackson.
So, these are two examples of what has happened within the last two weeks with two very different outcomes. The Broncos were without any of their quarterbacks but were still forced to play, while the Ravens with many positive tests had their game moved back many days. So, what is the difference? Obviously, the Ravens had a larger margin of positive tests, but this does bring to question what number of positive tests is required for a game to be moved. There isn’t a listed number from the NFL, which further shows how unprepared the NFL is and how they are mostly just making up what to do as the situation develops. Additionally, the Ravens situation has brought up some issues from some players.
According to USA Today, many Steelers players were upset that they were forced to miss the Thanksgiving primetime game due to the fact that the Ravens players were not working hard enough to stay safe. The Steelers’ star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster went to Twitter and showed his displeasure as the NFL had already messed with their schedule by moving up their bye week and moving their game against Tennessee Titans back a week when they had a spike in cases.
Again, there is a discrepancy, as many other teams have had spikes in cases, but their games have not been moved. Obviously, these situations are more quality of life-related as players just want to know when they are playing to plan out for the week. However, it is evident that the NFL has not planned very well because of these scheduling discrepancies and obvious holes in their restrictions. The way that the NFL is making their adjustments are clearly subjective.
When one of the most dynamic players in the league is out, they push back the scheduling and make all sorts of adjustments. Yet when all the quarterbacks of a single team make them almost completely unable to play, they say “play on.” Again, there are many other factors, such as the fact that the Ravens had many players out, but the players and fans do notice that the way the NFL is handling things is not consistent or well-thought out.