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: Covid-19-related competitive disadvantages are reasonable and fair and part of the 2020 landscape, and should not hinder any game from being played as long as it can be done without further risk of spreading the virus.
Explanation: With the Steelers’ game on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans being threatened by a Covid-19 outbreak within their opponents’ organization, questions have been asked about competitive fairness in the event that the Titans’ practice opportunities are cut short because of their inability to access their facility.
It is fair simply on the grounds that every team faces the same relative circumstances. Everybody within the organization, particularly the players and those around them, must be held personally responsible for ensuring that they are adequately shielding themselves, and thus shielding others, from the coronavirus.
If they fail to do that, and suffer consequences as a result of that, then they only have themselves to blame. If the team comes down with the flu in any other year, or even this year, and a dozen players miss practice, that’s just life. That’s not to equate the coronavirus with the flu, as the latter is more easily transmitted, but the principle is the same: if you introduce something into your locker room, you have to deal with it. It’s your problem.
Millions of people have caught the coronavirus not through being irresponsible but simply by having bad luck, of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not necessarily a team being at fault if they experience an outbreak, given how easily it can spread by simply introducing one case because exposure is detected.
The league has already made a number of exceptions explicitly for Covid-19. There was an entire addendum to the CBA that took months of negotiating to put in place, including an expanded practice squad and a special reserve list for Covid-19 cases. While the NFL will surely allow for some competitive imbalance, they won’t allow a team to play a game without having the opportunity to practice at all, or barely at all. It’s a matter of player safety at that point.