Regular readers should be aware that I don’t go in for virtually any theories positing that the NFL is actually playing favorites in benefit of this team or that team—one of the reasons being that there are so many theories that they begin to contradict each other after a while.
At the moment, the vast majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans I’ve encountered are now convinced that the league has been catering to the Baltimore Ravens organization in order to help them through a crisis that has seen Covid-19 ravage their roster. A game originally scheduled to be played last Thursday has been postponed three times, and will now be played, finally, tomorrow.
The third and final postponement came yesterday, moving the game from today to tomorrow. Many believe that the Ravens have attempted to manipulate the narrative to coax the league into continuing to postpone the game to try to get as many players back from the Reserve/Covid-19 List as they can.
I know that I’m probably not going to convince anybody who already thinks otherwise, but there is no evidence of this—at least none that isn’t consistent with the basic health and safety standards that the NFL has been using as a guide all along.
Tom Pelissero reported that the league had multiple justifications for the latest move, though I’m not sure if this is information from sources or personal speculation. After one new player tested positive yesterday, the league’s medical experts wanted to give it one more day of testing before clearing the Ravens to return to practice.
Pelissero also wrote that giving Baltimore the opportunity to get in a day of practice in an effort to help alleviate an alleged heightened risk of injuries such as muscle strains was a factor. Whether or not that is medically valid, it is true that, to the best of my knowledge, the NFL has never required that a team play a game after not practicing for more than a week.
Earlier this season, before the Steelers’ game against the Tennessee Titans was postponed to another week entirely, the league was prepared to allow the Titans to play that game without having held (sanctioned) practices inside of their facilities. But this was within a week. No other game had been moved so far within a single game week without a team having an opportunity to practice.
The Ravens have had at least one new player test positive for Covid-19 for nine consecutive days, including yesterday, yet people are painting the league moving the game again as some sort of pro-Baltimore conspiracy. I don’t buy it.
Nothing that the league has done relative to this game cannot be explained under the auspices of health and safety standards, which have been consistent with other games, or which have been in response to the unique circumstances of this one. Decisions about postponements are about transmission periods, not roster makeup.
Again, like I said, I know I’m not going to convince many people here. Maybe not anybody. Maybe even some of my colleagues will disagree with me. Even the professional sports writers covering the team who have some modicum of a respectable reputation are pumping out false information to support their contention that the Ravens are being assisted by the league. But here it is all the same.