It’s very rare that the NFL has ever had to reschedule a game to a later week. Prior to this past weekend’s rearrangement, I don’t believe it’s happened since 2008. Unfortunately, this being 2020, it’s probably not going to be the last time that happens, and in fact it’s starting to look as though it might happen yet again, to the same team, this weekend.
This is all due to the Covid-19 situation around the country, and the Pittsburgh Steelers got caught in the middle of it when their scheduled opponent for week four, the Tennessee Titans, experienced an outbreak that has cleared the 20-person infection bar, with new cases continuing to emerge (a reminder that the incubation period is at least two weeks).
Understandably, the Steelers have not been happy about the situation, with Ben Roethlisberger yesterday saying, when prompted, that they got the short end of the stick, as they were more or less robbed of their bye week. Vance McDonald also weighed in today, stressing the importance of accountability on a team-by-team and person-by-person basis.
“We just don’t want the finger pointing at us. Coach Tomlin said it well, he said it almost every day in team meetings, especially this week, having come from the weekend that we just had of our game being canceled, it’s we’ve been doing this from day zero, let’s not be those guys”, he told reporters earlier today.
“We’re five weeks in now into the NFL season and say like, ‘oh, we were supposed to be doing this’”, he continued. “It’s like, no, we knew what we were supposed to be doing from day zero in training camp, whenever we all reported, let’s just do that. Let’s have respect and honor for everyone and just follow the rules”.
This is similar to the message the Steelers have been sending throughout this process, with recent comments also being echoed by Cameron Heyward and Bud Dupree, and of course head coach Mike Tomlin himself.
“That, to me, is the only way you’re going to have fair play”, McDonald said. “And so as soon as any of that is compromised, you’re going to have some other teams on the other end of it that gets the short stick. And I feel in my opinion as though we were that team this past weekend”.
But unless the league suddenly feels like doing something retroactively, there is nothing the Steelers can do about what has already transpired. All they can do is move forward, and they do have a game to play this weekend in front of their home crowd. That is and ought to be their focus. Whatever happens with Tennessee at this point is not their concern until week seven.