The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: NFL players have learned their lesson about personal responsibility from the Covid-19 outbreaks in the MLB.
Explanation: More than the NBA and the NHL, who are conducting their seasons in a ‘bubble’ environment, the success for failure of the NFL’s season will hinge upon the ability of young adults to maintain a level of responsible behavior for the next several months. This is difficult at the best of times, but seeing the Marlins and the Cardinals put on pause, and how it threatened to derail the MLB’s season, should have been an eye-opening experience.
Players may not be playing in a bubble in the NFL this year, but they don’t live in one either. We see them commenting on the goings-on in other sports all the time. The vast majority of them will have been aware of what the MLB continues to go through with Covid-19. The Cardinals are still having new positive tests, and they have 55 games to play in something like 46 days.
NFL players also know they don’t have the means of making up games with doubleheaders. At a certain point, teams will be forced to forfeit games if it comes to that. And players can be suspended for up to four games for engaging in reckless behavior. That’s almost a quarter of their season—a quarter of their pay—for a night out at a bar or something equally mundane.
It will take thousands of people being consistently responsible in order for the NFL to conduct its season without interruption. The odds of that happening are incredibly low. Even after the outbreaks in St. Louis and Miami, Cleveland still had a player break Covid-19 protocol and he was sent home.
The good news is that the NFL can still get a season in without 100 percent compliance as long as they are diligent about it, and keeping players who are potentially exposed away from the general playing population. So even while it feels like an impossibility to expect to keep the players from hurting themselves, the teams, who have the most money riding on getting things done properly, still have mechanisms to take control.