The return of multiple additional positive COVID-19 tests on Thanksgiving night has thrust the Ravens into even more turmoil. It also has created significant confusion regarding the status of Sunday’s scheduled game against the Steelers.
Per a league source with direct knowledge of the situation, decisions have not been made regarding whether the game will proceed on Sunday and, if not, when it will happen. A decision, as of Wednesday, was expected to be made on Friday. A decision, as of right now, is expected to be made on Friday.
There’s an increasing belief within the Baltimore organization that the game cannot proceed as scheduled. Whether it’s moved to Monday or Tuesday or it’s shifted to an eighteenth week or the Ravens forfeit (unlikely, but possible) isn’t known. Whether the game will proceed on Sunday won’t be determined, again, until Friday.
Against this basic reality, ESPN has reported that Ravens coach John Harbaugh has told players they won’t return to the team facility until Monday at the earliest. This communication, if it occurred (and Harbaugh apparently has gone on the record to confirm that it did), is not binding on the league; ultimately, the league will decide whether the game proceeds. And, again, the league has not yet made a decision.
A cynic would wonder whether Harbaugh is trying to speak a postponement into existence. The more likely explanation is that he’s reacting to concerns being expressed to him by players who are rattled by the uncontained spread of the virus, which most recently infected quarterback Lamar Jackson. As one source explained it to PFT, at this point the Ravens are far more concerned about stopping the outbreak than playing the game.
Its also possible that the Ravens would travel to Pittsburgh and play without returning to the team’s facility. However, the people carry the virus; the facility can be cleaned. The question is whether individuals are still incubating the virus, and whether they will shed virus onto others before it’s known that they have tested positive.
Will the Ravens agree with the league’s final decision about the game? Maybe, maybe not. But the situation remains a league decision not a team decision, and the league has not yet made a decision. The decision is coming Friday.