With plenty of Browns players positive for COVID but also vaccinated and asymptomatic, the NFL apparently is softening in its “no postponements” stance.
Via ESPN, the NFL and NFL Players Association are discussing the possibility of moving Saturday’s game between the Raiders and Browns, possibly to Monday or Tuesday. The Raiders, who are preparing to travel to Ohio, have been told to wait.
ESPN also reports that the Raiders are lobbying for a forfeit, citing protocols from earlier this year requiring teams with outbreaks to take the L. That’s not the case, however; forfeits were put on the table only for outbreaks among the unvaccinated. There’s no indication the current Cleveland outbreak resulted from anyone other than vaccinated players.
Jay Glazer of Fox confirms that the Raiders have been told to wait for further word.
The specific challenge arising from Raiders-Browns comes from the fact that it’s one of the exclusive NFL Network games. The game must be played to meet the league’s minimum required amount that supports the monthly fees charges by cable, satellite, and streaming companies. Thus, the league would need to move it to a window that allows it to be televised on a stand-alone basis, as the first half of a Monday doubleheader (for example) or on a Tuesday night.
Tuesday becomes a potential issue for the Browns because they’re due to play the Packers the following Saturday. That’s the same turnaround as Sunday to Thursday.
The league has resisted moving the game, but the ongoing torrent of positive, vaccinated, asymptomatic players has created a situation in which players who are healthy enough to play are being kept from playing, undermining the competitive integrity of the games. As much as the league doesn’t want to do it, the right thing to do is to move the game.