Even as both the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to generate new positive tests for Covid-19, as far as the NFL is concerned—at the time of this writing—their game originally scheduled for this past Thursday remains on, to be played at 8:20 PM on Tuesday night after being postponed twice.
This comes from a number of different parties, most recently Jason La Canfora, who Tweeted last night that the “NFL has continued to send to message to the Ravens and the Steelers that they should be prepared to play Tuesday”, and that the “game is a go as of now”.
Of course, whatever happens today and tomorrow can change that ‘go’ status to ‘pause’. If there are, say, five more positive cases for the Ravens today, for example, that might be enough for the league’s medical experts to say we no longer have a handle on the chronology of the infection event and when we can safely predict that it will recede, and that we can no longer feel confident that the game can be safely played.
Josina Anderson wrote on Twitter yesterday that “there’s some hope the specific Covid strain that caused this Ravens cluster of positives and proximity concerns is tailing off, and that the team’s current Covid list total may reduce by several guys from tracing elimination soon”. They are also “still of the mindset to play with what they have“.
It’s not clear to me if she is referring formally to the Reserve/Covid-19 List or to a list of players that the league has identified as having the potential to develop symptoms or be identified as a close contact of another player who might test positive.
There are, however, about five or so players whom the Ravens placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List in the past week who were likely placed there not as players who tested positive, but rather as close contacts—players who can theoretically return in time for Tuesday and bolster Baltimore’s depth, particularly along the defensive line.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh issued the following statement on Friday. Only two players have tested positive since Friday for the club:
We appreciate the efforts of the NFL and Pittsburgh Steelers throughout this process, while we all work to create an environment that keeps the health and safety of everyone involved at the forefront of each decision.
Our organization has a plan in place, and we will be prepared to play the Steelers. We thank everyone for their adaptability and look forward to the challenge of facing a very good football team at Heinz Field on Tuesday night.
Basically, as we already knew, it’s not up to the Ravens and whether or not they’re ready—or the Steelers, and whether or not they’re ready—to determine if the game is played. If the league says they’re playing, then they’re required to play, and so far, they are continuing to say they’re playing.