A Ravens forfeit would open a financial can of worms

USA Today Sports

If you thought that Steelers players were upset by the postponement of their Week 12 game from Thursday to Sunday, wait to see how they’d respond to a possible decision that the Ravens have forfeited the game.

The vague threat of a forfeited game has loomed over the 2020 season, and plenty have argued that teams should be held responsible for their own inability to control the virus by taking an automatic L. Financial realities make the situation far more complicated than that.

A forfeit would spark a fight over money between the league and the union. Although some in the media are parroting the league’s position that the players for both teams wouldn’t be paid, the agreement struck by the NFL and the NFL Players Association prior to the opening of training camps does not cover forfeited games. It provides only for non-payment of players in the event that games are cancelled or suspended.

A forfeited game isn’t a cancelled or suspended game. It’s a forfeited game. There’s a winner (by the score of 2-0, per the league’s official rulebook) and a loser. It goes into the standings. It counts as an official game.

In any other year, a forfeit never would have resulted in the forfeiture of player pay. If the league wanted forfeited games to fall within the parameters of the no-play, no-pay arrangement, the league should have included that specific term in the agreement with the union.

Really, why should the Steelers not be paid if the game can’t be played for reasons unrelated to them? They spent the week practicing, they spent the week preparing. They spent most of the week in limbo. If the game can’t be played and if the league tries to pick their pockets for their game checks, the Pittsburgh players would have every right to scream and shout and tweet streams of profanities regarding their displeasure with the situation.

Besides, it’s hard to make the Ravens solely responsible for the potential inability to play. As explained earlier today, the league allowed the Ravens to gather at the facility on Monday and Tuesday despite obvious evidence of an ongoing outbreak. The league wanted to preserve the Thanksgiving night game if it could. That calculated risk apparently backfired; if it keeps the Ravens from playing on Sunday, the Ravens can’t solely be faulted for that.

Far better than a forfeit, the worst-case scenario should entail bumping the game to Week 18. Although that would give both teams no further leeway when it comes to any other COVID-19 issues involving them or their future opponents, it may be the only path to chicken salad.

50 responses to “A Ravens forfeit would open a financial can of worms

  1. It would be bulljive not to pay the players. Fine the owners for not following protocols. If it is found that a player was egrigious in getting COVID – perhaps a big fine.

  2. make them play on tuesday. you screwed the bills and titans over by making them play tuesday/sunday, give the ravens and steelers the same treatment.

  3. This situation is clearly both the Raven’s and the NFL’s fault. Don’t expose the Steelers to the virus by playing this game Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. And don’t penalize the Steelers with a week 18 game while other playoff teams would have a bye.

    Easy solution to a bad issue: Ravens forfeit and the league office pays the Steelers salaries for the game. Punish the culprits, not the innocent.

  4. Giving the incubation period, how can the Steelers be comfortable playing either Monday or Tuesday?

  5. As a fan of a team that didn’t break any COVID-19 Protocols and lost both games that had to be rescheduled due to the negligence of another franchise, it’s really hard for me feel bad for the Ravens in Week 12.

  6. holeinone09 says:
    November 27, 2020 at 11:04 am
    This situation is clearly both the Raven’s and the NFL’s fault. Don’t expose the Steelers to the virus by playing this game Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. And don’t penalize the Steelers with a week 18 game while other playoff teams would have a bye.

    Easy solution to a bad issue: Ravens forfeit and the league office pays the Steelers salaries for the game. Punish the culprits, not the innocent.

    Big issue is a lot of guys who contracted it did nothing wrong. Could have been one player who screwed up. Then during a meeting someone else contracts it. That’s a big chunk of salary for someone who didnt do anything wrong.

  7. Ravens should forfeit.

    The Ravens screwed up. Either a player or a coach broke the rules and they got COVID. The Steeler should not be punished for something that was out of their control.

    The Steeler players and coaches should be paid. I don’t know if the Ravens should lose pay, either. What about the players that did everything right? Why should they be punished?

  8. If they can’t follow protocol You have to Forfeit. The Steelers should not be punished and games moved around because Baltimore’s staff and players can’t follow the rules.

  9. IF the Ravens HAD to forfeit and the Steelers were given the free win…AND the Steelers happened to go undefeated, is THAT truly a perfect season? …asking for the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

  10. Who cares. This is between employer and employees. DOES NOT AFFECT US ONE BIT.

    I don’t understand why you think we should stick our noses in other peoples’ money.

  11. it won’t matter…
    given what is going on in this country, the NFL will be lucky to be playing any games by week 18.

  12. See you in week 18 when the Ravens are at full strength and coming in on 5 game winning streak!

  13. if ravens get to forfeit, the bills should get the win vs the titans. that shouldve been a forfeited game as outbreaks were still possible. the bills were put at risk, they were lucky to come away with no incidents.

  14. stellarperformance says:

    November 27, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Rich guy problems. The season should have been cancelled from the start.

    except their not all rich and theres no reason the games should have been cancelled and theres also no reason it should be up to you or that you think it should be up to the risks others are willing to take or the pay their willing to forego. Would it be fair if the players said your job should be cancelled cause they think its unsafe for you even if you dont agree? Then why do you think you get to make that determination for others

  15. Here’s an idea….if the game can’t be played this week and the NFL reschedules to a week 18, then the Steelers, being that they have a huge lead in the standings, can choose whether they would like to play or forfeit that game.

    All the players and teams knew coming in that this year would be a challenge and what the challenges would be….today the Ravens, tomorrow the Steelers….any team could find themselves in a tough situation due to no fault of their own.

    The entire League is in this together. If there was some breach to protocol then that will be remedied at the League level….but if the League schedules the game to be played, then it needs to be played.

  16. Imagine making a team forfeit because a player followed all protocols and still got sick. The horror.

  17. A forfeiture would be a club level decision, not a player level decision; as such the players would get paid.

  18. It was reported that a strength and conditioning coach started all this. If that’s the case and the NFL pushed the walkthroughs no way you can not pay the players.

  19. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    With millions of people celebrating Thanksgiving, flying on planes, getting together with dozens of relatives indoors, the virus is taking off like gangbusters. The NFL has been mimicking the rest of the country. When things seem to be more under control, there were few outbreaks in the NFL, but now, things are changing quickly.

    It will be a miracle if the NFL can finish the season without cancelling many games.

  20. I will take the opposite opinion and say the teams should play. We have yet to see one transmission from opposite team to players. The virus doesn’t seem to transmit that way.

    You play with those that are available. Play the game

  21. Simple….move all week 17 games to week 18. Use week 17 for make up games. That way only the #1 seed gets a bye going into the playoffs.

  22. If the game is forfeited, the players should be paid…period, end of story.

    I just don’t see how they move this game to week 18. Using the Steelers as an example, if they move the Ravens/Steelers to week 18. What happens if the same thing happens with another team the Steelers (or the Steelers themselves) are playing? Will they have to play a double header….LOL? Also, if the game is meaningless to the Steelers, and they just play practice squad players and backups, basically giving the Ravens the win, that could potentially rip other teams that are on the playoff bubble. They can’t force the Steelers to field a competitive team.

  23. Any reason why the Superbowl cannot simply be moved back a couple weeks. If the Olympics, a world wide affected event can be cancelled, surely this is not a big deal.Few fans will be attending if at all.

    So give the schedule a buffer for this inevitable explosion of post Thanksgiving COVID cases due to moronic American travelers. And whack the Ravens their first round pick.

  24. “Punish the culprits, not the innocent.”
    So if a player or two on one team is unfortunate enough to catch Covid then the rest of the player on the team who are healthy should forfeit their pay for the game while the team without any Covid cases recieve their pay for the same game that wasnt played? the team with the covid cases are not culprits they are victims of an insidious disease. all players should recieve their pay just as if the game had been played,chaulk it up to a very irregular season,one nobody wants to see repeated.

  25. Carpsy says:
    November 27, 2020 at 11:48 am
    Imagine making a team forfeit because a player followed all protocols and still got sick. The horror.

    Did you not read that a Raven’s assistant coach was disciplined by the team for NOT following the Covid protocol? The entire Raven’s team should be upset at that moron but the team has to monitor what is going on with their staff.

  26. On a related note, if the game is forfeited, the NFL might have to refund the TV network broadcasting that game (depending on what force majeure clause exists in the broadcasting agreement) which would be a hefty sum. We all now how the NFL feels about money.

  27. How would the league/NFLPA/teams and players account for incentive laden contracts? If a guy makes X number of dollars for y number of sacks and he ends the year with y-1 sacks, does he get paid because maybe he would’ve gotten that sack in the forfeited game?

  28. If this does go down it’s time for everyone to lawyer up and watch them rip each other to pieces. If I know the Rooney family they will pay their players no matter what. Love em’ or hate em’ The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the best run organizations in all of sports. PERIOD.

  29. Cancelling the Superbowl is easy. The issue is moving the Superbowl to another week. The logistics are daunting.

  30. No matter what the league decides to do, we can all be sure that Harbaugh will whine about it.

  31. First of all, I hope Lamar and all infected players recover swiftly and safely. This virus is no joke.
    That being said, Lamar and the Ravens have put Goodell squarely in the pickle box here. To date he has made the Raiders, 49ers, and Patriots play without significant numbers of starters including critical players (Cam Newton as an example). Historically he has proven Raven-friendly (bluetooth guy on sideline, changing rules per Harbaugh requests) but here he must remain consistent. If he pushes the Sunday game, it will reek of stench and we all know how invested he and the league are in terms of hyping and marketing Lamar.
    If there is a raging outbreak impacting 20 Ravens, that is one thing; if it is Lamar and a few starters and that’s really about it who tested positive, causing the game to be moved, but then we find out those were false positive tests and they are all eligible to play Sunday, well then Goodell will deserve all the arrows fired at him.

  32. How about this. Separate your COVID positives and close contancts, and figure it the frick out with backups and practice squad/free agents. Choices have consequences. Play the game.

  33. Here’s an issue. Suppose they move this game to week 18. Now the Steelers who currently hold the only bye will be playing while the rest of the AFC playoff card has a week off??? How is that fair? And what if the outbreak hits the Steelers? The week 18 game is already bookend. Do the Steelers now have to forfeit? None of this is fair to the Steelers who by the way already got screwed out of their week 8 bye.

  34. If the Ravens forfeit, take away all of their draft picks so they don’t benefit from losing a forfeited game that was their fault.

  35. Goodell is NOT trying to help the Ravens or Lamar.

    Then owners are all billionaires with egos as large as their bank accounts. They would all be screaming bloody murder, and launching an army of lawyers, if Goodell was trying to help one team over anther.

    Enough with the conspiracy theories. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. The league is just not prepared to handle this many outbreaks.

  36. Here’s a solution. Make the team who had to forfeit pay the players on both teams for the game. If Harbaugh doesn’t like it, too bad. The Ravens did this to themselves. I have no sympathy for them and if it adversely affects another team (Steelers) then the Ravens deserve anything they get.

  37. This whole season should have a giant asterisk on it anyway. From the pandemic to the Washington team not having a sensible nick name this whole season has been nuts.
    No matter who wins this year, it doesn’t matter because everyone will want to forget this season as soon as possible once it’s over.
    In my 57 years of watching the NFL, this season has been the worst I have ever seen. The play has been awful, the officiating has been awful, the commercials have been horrible, and the commentators have been awful because the product has been so bad.
    I cannot wait until this season is over and I wouldn’t care if the NFL ended the whole thing right now.

  38. Play the game, but DQ all the players and coaches that tested positive, without pay, from that game. There has to be some personal accountability for this, or its never going to end (until the vax)

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