The NFL has already announced that Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans will not take place as scheduled. They remain hopeful that it can take place on Monday or Tuesday, as, if not, it would require that it be postponed until later on in the season, a scenario they would like to avoid if at all possible.
This comes after the Titans reported eight new positive coronavirus cases, with one additional new case confirmed today, among them four players with the latest case. Tennessee has had its facility closed, but they are hopeful to get back in relatively soon.
The end result is that if indeed the game is held next week, it is very likely the Titans will not have a full in-person work week to prepare for it, while the Steelers have been told all along to go about their usual week of work, which they have.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger weighed in on the subject earlier today, discussing the notion of competitive advantage relative to the imbalance of practice opportunities between two opponents, emphasizing the point that “we were told during training camp that this could happen”.
Now, to be clear, nobody in Tennessee has been complaining about the hand they’ve been dealt, although earlier today head coach Mike Vrabel was quick to state that nobody was to blame for the outbreak that they are dealing with and that it was not a product of negligence.
“We were told if there might be a situation that if you aren’t careful and there are some COVID issues here in Pittsburgh, we might not be able to practice until Friday or Saturday”, Roethlisberger said. “That’s why they made the rule with more practice squad guys this year. We were made aware of those possibilities”.
“I don’t want to say it is what it is, but that is why the plan was put in place to have guys, to be prepared and why so many people—I know in Pittsburgh and I’m sure down in Tennessee, too—are being diligent and not going out and being reckless and being careful”, he added, noting some of the steps his family has taken to reduce their own risk, such as homeschooling their children.
So far, the Titans are the only team to have had a new confirmed positive test among players since play began. It remains unclear exactly how the virus entered their facility, and ended up contaminating players from a variety of position groups.
Perhaps we’ll learn more details about what happened and why as time moves on. Meanwhile, the Titans’ last opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, have so far had no positive cases registered, though it’s still well within the incubation period for infection.