The NFL has one overriding motivation when it comes to the pandemic. To play all games as scheduled.
The NFL Players Association has a different viewpoint. The union is aggressively pushing the league to postpone Saturday’s game between the Raiders and Browns, given the number of Cleveland players who are on COVID reserve. The league has said that won’t happen.
More broadly, the union believes that any teams in enhanced protocols should have their games delayed, if necessary. The union wants the teams to have as many of their best players available. It’s a safety issue, both as it relates to the ongoing spread of the virus and as it relates to having too many unfit or unprepared players thrust into NFL action. The union also is concerned about competitive integrity issues arising from, for example, the Browns having neither Baker Mayfield nor Case Keenum available to play quarterback on Saturday.
Some in the NFLPA actually have suggested the possibility of shutting the season down for a weekend, pushing everything back by one week and eliminating the bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. That’s definitely not happening.
None of it is happening. The league is getting these games in. Too much money is riding on it, from ticket sales to TV revenue.
As it relates to the Raiders-Browns game, the fact that it’s one of the games exclusively televised by NFL Network becomes an issue. The league need to broadcast a minimum number of games on NFLN to justify the monthly fees charged to cable, satellite, and streaming companies. Taking away a standalone game exclusive to NFLN would create a real problem for the league.