The NFL, despite all its ongoing problems with CTE, horrible additions to the rulebook, and comically bad press with the likes of Jon Gruden and Dan Snyder, did have one thing going for it throughout the 2021 season: They hadn’t had a serious COVID outbreak.
There hadn’t been a single superstar who was being forced to miss games due to COVID concerns. While there were missteps along the way such as Aaron Rodgers saying he was “immunized” and Antonio Brown faking a vaccination card, all in all, the NFL was doing a swell job of keeping COVID under control and pushing the season along without any bumps.
Well, Baker Mayfield got what he was asking for! Today, the NFL has postponed three games after several teams experienced COVID outbreaks. Browns-Raiders has been pushed to Monday, while the Rams-Seahawks and WFT-Eagles games have been pushed to Tuesday. So, with that in mind, I have good news and bad news.
Let’s start with the bad. Always good to get the bad stuff out of the way first and then soften the blow with the good news. The bad news is that we all knew this was going to happen sooner or later. It’s a miracle it hadn’t happened already, and of course, the moment we all start to think “Maybe we were being too paranoid” all these postponements happen at one of the most pivotal junctures of the season. Five of the six teams I just listed are deep in their conference’s playoff hunt and now they likely won’t get to play with many of their starters and they have to play the following week on short rest? That’s a real tough break.
You’d think the players would want to avoid similar situations like this from happening in the future. You’d think they’d want protocols to be even stricter in order to ensure games are played on time and nobody gets put on an uneven playing field in regards to scheduling. As long as the games get played, the players get paid, the fans get to watch, and the owners and league get that sweet TV money in their pockets. It’s a win for everyone involved. However, the players have a different idea.
While the NFLPA has held strong in their desire to continue daily testing and maintaining the current COVID protocols, the disconnect between the union and players is not a good sign for the remainder of the season. This will likely form a rift between the two parties and could lead to several NFL players speaking out against the union and refusing to participate in COVID protocols leading to more postponed games, perhaps even a cancellation. The NFL made it very clear that they will cancel games and declare forfeits if a team has an outbreak.
Nobody wants this to happen obviously, but it seems like that might be where we’re headed.
So, what’s the good news? With all these postponements, there are now NFL games slated for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We’ll have football almost every day next week. Will those games get postponed? I hope not. Will we see the best players on every team? Probably not, but at least it’s NFL football. Yes, the pain behind these words is real. It’s sad that that’s what the NFL has come to. There just aren’t any good headlines anymore.