NFL will not reschedule games for competitive reasons in the postseason

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The Broncos played a game without a quarterback because of COVID-19 contact tracing. The 49ers played a game after putting four key players, including three receivers, on the COVID-19 list a day before kickoff. The Ravens were missing a dozen starters and key contributors, including 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, in Week 12 despite their game against the Steelers being rescheduled three times. The Browns played Sunday’s game with only one receiver available from their 53-player roster.

The results of those games was predictable.

The NFL said all along, though, that it would not reschedule games for competitive reasons, only medical reasons. It will take the same approach in the postseason, and the NFLPA is in lockstep in scheduling decisions being based only on health and safety.

“I think it’s a very slippery slope to either read into or to start making decisions motivated by competitive balance,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a videoconference Tuesday. “I think once you start making those decisions, it becomes very difficult to manage and also very difficult in order to determine when to stop.

“I think what you’ve seen over 16 weeks is the league and the union work hard to make tough decisions but right decisions about player health and safety.”

NFLPA president J.C. Tretter is the Browns’ center, so he saw the results of the Browns’ top four receivers being deemed high-risk close contacts of linebacker B.J. Goodson, who generated a positive test Saturday morning.

The Browns lost to the Jets 23-16 on Sunday, which could end up costing them a playoff berth. They placed tight end Harrison Bryant and safety Andrew Sendejo on the reserve COVID-19 list Tuesday, with a big game against the Steelers looming Sunday.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Tretter said. “Guys want to be out there, and that was one of the tougher things this year. Guys are competitors. Guys play through injury, through illness, but this is the year that that’s not possible. You can’t play through COVID. It’s not safe for the guys around you, and the choice is taken away from the player of [if] can you do it.

“It’s a hard no, and it’s a hard no if you’re a close contact. And that’s why following the protocols is so important — wearing your mask, wearing your Kinexon [tracking device] and physically distancing at the facility. If you do those three things, the odds are you’re not going to contract the virus and you will not end up on the high-risk close contact list. So following the protocols and having 100 percent compliance takes care of it all.”

The NFL informed teams today that it will continue daily testing and intensive protocols throughout the playoffs. The Management Council and NFL Players Association also agreed to unlimited practice squad elevations without a player having to clear waivers during the 2020 postseason.

During the regular season, a team could move a player to the active roster as a standard elevation only twice.

The NFL will not go to a neutral-site bubble or have mandatory local bubbles for the postseason, trusting its protocols work.

“I don’t think there’s a need for [a bubble or bubbles],” Smith said.

Few expected the NFL to play all 256 regular-season games without a Week 18 or without some cancellations, but it is five days from doing just that.

“We said from the beginning, it wasn’t about getting started,” Tretter said. “We felt confident we could get to the point of getting started. It was about staying started and continuing the season and finishing it at the Super Bowl. We are closing it on that goal. It’s going to need everybody to continue to comply with protocols and do the right thing and have 100 percent compliance, but every person that walks in that building I give a ton of credit his year.”

13 responses to “NFL will not reschedule games for competitive reasons in the postseason

  1. You mean IF Baltimore gets in they won’t get any more advantages? The league really did all they could to help/appease/accommodate the Ravens and hosed teams like Denver and Tennessee.

  2. I’d be interested to see the stats of how many players were out for Covid (including contact tracing) during/after a BYE week as opposed to every other week. This might be the year that teams may not want a first round BYE or a 2 weeks between the AFC/NFC championship games and the SB.

  3. After a Covid outbreak decimates playoff teams, the Washington Football Team, led by QB Taylor Heinike, wins the Super Bowl, 3-2!

  4. ariani1985 says:
    December 29, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    Will this effect the packers typical one and done playoff parade?
    *********
    Awww…..is someone still smarting from their team’s humiliating performance on Christmas Day?
    I think so! 🤣

  5. kscogg says:
    December 29, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    You mean IF Baltimore gets in they won’t get any more advantages? The league really did all they could to help/appease/accommodate the Ravens and hosed teams like Denver and Tennessee.
    ——–

    OK, if the NFL really *was* “doing all they could” to help the Ravens, can you please explain why Baltimore is in a must win Week 17 game instead of resting their starters sitting in the Number 1 seed?

  6. They forgot the asterisk that this won’t apply to Brady, Mahomes, Rodgers if any of them get sick.

    Just an oversight I’m sure.

  7. Tell me how the league favors the Ravens again? This is from the Ravens official website regarding the Steelers game. “The Ravens had 17 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, including nine starters, seven Pro Bowlers and one MVP quarterback. They called up 10 players from the practice squad Wednesday just to field a team. The Ravens didn’t hold a normal practice all week – just a couple distanced walk-throughs.”

  8. kscogg says:
    December 29, 2020 at 7:33 pm
    You mean IF Baltimore gets in they won’t get any more advantages? The league really did all they could to help/appease/accommodate the Ravens and hosed teams like Denver and Tennessee.

    ========

    LOL. Straight from the article “The Ravens were missing a dozen starters and key contributors, including 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, in Week 12” yet the Titans, who were repeat offenders and the only team in the league who actually got a game canceled this year apparently were hosed?!

  9. kscogg says:
    December 29, 2020 at 7:33 pm
    You mean IF Baltimore gets in they won’t get any more advantages? The league really did all they could to help/appease/accommodate the Ravens and hosed teams like Denver and Tennessee.

    ========

    LOL. Straight from the article “The Ravens were missing a dozen starters and key contributors, including 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, in Week 12” yet the Titans, who were repeat offenders and the only team in the league who actually got a game canceled this year apparently were hosed?!

    ———————–

    Let’s see, Ravens had 3 games rescheduled including the Thanksgiving Day (3 times) game, the Titans….only 2. What other team got that luxury? Not Denver, who had their QBs all ruled out and had to trot a running back out there to attempt 9 passes, not the Steelers who then had to play on a short week AND had their bye moved from week 8 to 4. Instead of rescheduling and punishing other teams, offenders should forfeit games pure and simple. Sorry that your staff and players can’t follow simple guidelines to the point that you put other teams at risk.

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