Mike Tomlin on playing in 13 straight weeks: “We do not care”

Getty Images

The Steelers picked up an unexpected bye week via the postponement of their Week Four game against the Titans. If the Steelers-Titans game moves to Week Seven (with Steelers-Ravens moving to Week Eight, when Pittsburgh would have had a bye), Pittsburgh will end up playing games in 13 straight weekends, without a bye.

Asked about that prospect by reporters on Thursday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was blunt: “We do not care.”

Nothing would change if they did care, so that’s clearly the right attitude. And in this crazy, upside-down world of pro football in a pandemic, playing games in 13 straight weeks is a minor inconvenience, given other things that can and will happen.

It’s not the first time teams have played that many weeks without a break. Before the bye week arrived in 1990 (a device for expanding the number of NFL weekends — and prime-time TV windows — to 17), all teams played 16 games in 16 weeks.

From 1999 through 2001, the NFL had 31 teams. Each year, someone had a Week One bye (which meant 16 straight games after that), someone had a Week Seventeen bye (which meant 16 straight games before that), etc.

In 2017, a hurricane wiped out the Week One game between Tampa Bay and Miami, they made it up during their bye week, and they both played games in 16 straight weeks.

So the prospect of the Steelers (and Titans) playing 13 straight weeks shouldn’t be regarded as a big deal. Again, this season could entail hardships and perceived inequities far worse than that.

8 responses to “Mike Tomlin on playing in 13 straight weeks: “We do not care”

  1. Wrong.

    Why did the league add all those extra practice squad players if they were going to cancel over a 4 player out-break. Just simply call up 4 players and play the game.

    Just wait until a real out-break happens and there is no longer a bye week to fall back on. Very short-sighted thinking by the league. Plus, the team that did nothing wrong gets punished for no reason.

  2. The reason the “bye” week was implemented was because there was an odd number of teams after expansion. When the league added an even number of teams, they kept the Bye in the schedule because it made the season last longer and made everyone more money. The players came to like getting a break at some point in the season also.
    I guess now it’s the “dark ages” when teams played a complete 14 & 16 game schedule with no breaks. Now it’s like “How can a team hold up through 13 straight games with no bye?”

  3. That’s right reply, in fact it’s the reply reply. What is Tomlin supposed to say, oh woe is us!

  4. OK, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good decision. There will be outbreaks after a team has already had its bye. There will be outbreaks that can’t be fixed by moving only 2 games. Consistency is going to be impossible. If a team has one positive case, do they postpone that game? How many does it take? What are the markers needed for the rest of the team to be cleared to play? What if it’s just coaches and not players? What if players test positive before a playoff game? There should have been clear protocols to handle this sort of thing before they even thought about returning to play.
    The NHL management doesn’t get praised often, but they really nailed their handling of the virus. The NFL may need to look at some kind of bubble/quarantine system for the playoffs if things don’t drastically improve.

  5. As recent as 2016, the eagles had a week 4 bye. They started 3-0 and then had their bye week and then played 13 consecutive weeks. Im not completely sure, but I’d be willing to bet that there wasn’t an article about the eagles having to play 13 straight weeks.

  6. “So the prospect of the Steelers (and Titans) playing 13 straight weeks shouldn’t be regarded as a big deal.”
    Strange then everyone will make a big deal over who does and doesn’t get a bye come playoff time.

  7. The Lions and Packers have a bye next week and the Bucs and Panthers have a bye in Week 13. That’s 12 straight weeks for those teams. Is this really so much worse?

  8. Playoff bye means a lot more, you have to win one less game so there is no comparison to a mid season bye.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.