As the Ravens brace for a potential punishment from the league for the outbreak that forced the Week 12 game between the Ravens and Steelers to be postponed three times and that sparked the postponement of a pair of Week 13 games (Washington-Steelers to Sunday to Monday and Cowboys-Ravens from Thursday to Tuesday), team president Dick Cass has issued a statement regarding the situation.
The full statement, which appears below, explains that the team had four different strains of COVID-19 in the facility. Three were stopped, and one was not.
“As you know by now, the Ravens have experienced an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), with multiple players, staff and families testing positive, being quarantined and treated,” Cass said. “It further resulted in unprecedented changes to scheduling, practice, travel, game dates and times, and further precautions for not only our organization, but for opponents as well.
“Our thoughts are with our infected players, staff and their families. They are receiving treatment and are being monitored to provide them with the best possible care, and we are hoping for a full recovery for all.
“We want to thank our players. Their proactive efforts and resolve during this difficult situation were nothing short of extraordinary. We couldn’t be prouder of them.
“We also offer our profound appreciation to the NFL, the Steelers, the Cowboys, and the fans, for their support, understanding and flexibility during this time of unforeseen upheaval due to this coronavirus outbreak.
“We, at the Ravens, have endeavored to preserve the sport we love. We have been and are dedicated to the health and safety of our team, our players, our staff and their families.
“From the outset, we have taken the virus seriously, very seriously. The NFL, NFLPA and their medical experts developed a protocol with the health and safety of every organization in mind. Throughout the season, the NFL has updated the protocol to reflect new knowledge about the coronavirus and its spread. We believe in the protocol and made every effort to adhere to it. We strive not only to ‘play like a Raven’ but also to ‘comply like a Raven.’
“Despite our best efforts, the protocol is only as effective as our weakest link. With a dangerous virus like this, everyone must comply with the protocol to avoid infecting many. We now know that not everyone at the Ravens followed the protocol thoroughly.
“Based on information provided by the NFL, we have learned that we had at least four unique strains of COVID-19 in our facility. Three of the four were stopped and not spread within our organization. Unfortunately, the fourth was a highly-contagious strain and spread throughout our organization.
“We cannot undo what has occurred. But, we can do our best to learn from what has happened and be vigilant moving forward to ensure that it does not happen again. As the recent experience has shown us, this virus does not need a large opening to spread within an organization, and 99% compliance is not a passing grade when dealing with this virus.
“To our community, our neighbors, our fans and families, we say: Please learn from what happened here. This virus is serious. Very serious. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Let’s beat this virus together. Thank you.”
The Ravens previously announced that an employee had been disciplined in connection with the outbreak. The Ravens have declined to name the employee, who per multiple reports is strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders. Saunders, reportedly has been suspended for his infractions, which reportedly included not reporting symptoms and not consistently wearing a mask or a contact-tracing device.
The Ravens surely hope that their proactive approach to imposing discipline on Saunders will reduce the punishment. Others would say that the Ravens should have taken extra care to ensure that everyone was complying with all relevant protocols — especially staff members like strength and conditioning coaches, who come in contact with so many players and others.