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: If the NFL and NFLPA’s investigation finds that the Titans’ Covid outbreak was caused due to negligence and a gross violation of the protocols put in place, they have to rule that Tennessee must forfeit the game against the Steelers rather than replay it later in the season.
Explanation: Although the Titans have insisted that their Covid outbreak was not due to negligence, the reality is that they have half a dozen players sidelined right now, and amazingly all coming at different positions, because they have tested positive. The outbreak has forced the league to postpone their game, scheduled for today, against the Steelers, inconveniencing Pittsburgh for no fault of their own, and advantaging the Baltimore Ravens by giving them a bye week they wouldn’t have otherwise had right before playing Pittsburgh.
Competitive fairness is the cornerstone of any sporting event. If two sides are not seen as having equal access of opportunity for success, then it calls into question the very integrity of the game, and by giving the Ravens a bye week just before they play the Steelers, they are creating a competitive disparity mid-season.
If this disparity came about simply because their opponent was not doing what they were supposed to do to a reasonable degree, then the Steelers should not suffer because of it. Put simply, if the Titans’ outbreak was due to gross negligence, in the name of competitive fairness, they should forfeit the game.
These are times unlike any other in NFL history. It’s reasonable to expect unusual occurrences, such as a forfeiture. Covid-19 protocol compliance should be regarded as a requisite for all teams to adhere to. Failure to do so is like failure to show up to the game.
The NFL said all along that there might not be fairness involved in any situation that consists of a game being moved as a result of Covid. Every team in the league knew that this was a possibility that they were facing. Just because it happens now doesn’t mean you suddenly get to be self-righteous about it.
A more reasonable alternative to an outright forfeit would be a straight cancelation of the game, meaning that the Titans and Steelers would only play 15 games. The MLB did not force any teams that experienced outbreaks to forfeit games, even though it inconvenienced their opponents.
These are times unlike any other in NFL history. As Tomlin said a dozen times, you have to be light on your feet and adjust on the fly. The Steelers haven’t lost any games because of this. All they have to do is go out and win their games.