As we sit here, we still don’t even know if the strain of coronavirus that infested the Baltimore Ravens organization has actually full run its course. At least one new positive cases among players alone has been detected every day for nine consecutive days, which has been the biggest reason that the scheduled game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed three times.
That’s not, of course, the story that many people are telling. To hear it told, the game has been postponed because the league it trying to help the Ravens get as many players back off the Reserve/Covid-19 List as possible without actually moving the game to an as-yet-nonexistent 18th week of the regular season.
As I stated earlier today, by no means do I agree that that is what is happening. Baltimore could, in theory, get a couple of players back that it wouldn’t have otherwise without the game being postponed a third time, but even that remains to be seen, and even if that does happen, it will not have been the reason for the postponement. The league is, if anything, protecting itself against liability rather than actively doing anyone any favors.
“I’ve been told the Ravens are okay with taking their medicine”, Peter King wrote on Sunday. “They’d prefer, of course, to switch the game to Jan. 10, but also realize they don’t have much of a leg to stand on, because reportedly it’s one of the coaches in the strength-and-conditioning area who may have violated COVID protocols with mask-wearing in the building and another protocol violation or two. They’re owning the problem”.
The Ravens acknowledged guilt almost immediately, when they suspended head strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders, who was responsible for introducing the virus strain that hit the team into the building and resulted in dozens of player, coach, and staff positives.
Unless there is at least one concerning positive case today, there remains no imminent need to expand to an 18th week of the regular season. That is what the Ravens wanted, as King wrote, because it would mean that they would have a chance to get so many critical players back for a game that could determine whether or not they are out of the division race.
If the league were really trying to help Baltimore out and salvage the best possible product on the field, wouldn’t they have pushed on to an 18th week—especially with King having stated that that was their preference, yet knowing that they would have no say in the matter?
Just think about it this way. Baltimore is scheduled to play a game tomorrow in spite of the fact that it has had people test positive for the virus every single day for the past nine days up to this point. Can you blame Ravens players who might be apprehensive about playing?