The Pittsburgh Steelers were set to face the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night…then Sunday…then Tuesday…now Wednesday. Yada, yada, yada. We all should know the story by now. It was due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Baltimore Ravens organization which pushed the game from Thursday back all the way to Tuesday with a Sunday stop in the middle. But the movement from Tuesday to Wednesday was for a different reason.
After the news came out on Monday that the Baltimore Ravens were cleared to travel that evening to Pittsburgh to play their game on Tuesday, the Ravens organization threatened to not show for the game due to “player safety concerns.” Their reasoning was outlined per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network:
The NFL postponed this game (for a third time) to get an extra day of COVID test results and allow #Ravens players time to train and avoid muscle strains, etc. -- not because of who wouldn't be available. But, Baltimore gets a big boost for a big game anyway. https://t.co/67iJixffJF— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 30, 2020
Of course, it is quite interesting that the Ravens will get back two key players for a game on Wednesday who they would not have had earlier. Yes, they will be missing even more players, but at this point any addition, even just a couple players, helps.
Do I blame the Ravens for trying to get back as many players as possible? No. If it were the Steelers I would welcome any player returning to the roster. But the bottom line is the reasoning for postponing the game another day is falling apart when actually looking at what is happening.
First, let’s look at the reasoning of another day of no positive tests. For every other NFL franchise this season, they have all been actively anticipating getting back to the facility as soon as possible. But for the Baltimore Ravens, they claim that they want an extra day. The problem with this thinking is that the biggest danger faced by the Ravens is being together in their facility. This is the greatest chance for spread. When the Ravens made the statement about safety, they had already returned to their facility. It has already been reported they would be taking two planes to Pittsburgh in order to be able to better socially distance on the flight. Traveling should not have been an issue. To date, there have been no reported cases on any level of the virus crossing the line of scrimmage. So playing the game shouldn’t have been an issue either.
Because of this, the second reasoning has come about in regards to player safety and how players need to have practiced in order to not be susceptible to unnecessary muscle strains. If this is truly the case, then the Ravens should not allow any players who don’t practice before this game to play. Wouldn’t that be the logical conclusion if it would be unsafe for them to play otherwise? Yet the Ravens are specifically having J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram fly to Pittsburgh on Wednesday because they will not have come off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List in order to travel with the team Tuesday night.
By making a special trip for these players, there is every indication that the Ravens plan on having them play in the game. Why would the team spend the extra money to get two players to Pittsburgh to stand on the sidelines? But if the ultimate concern is it’s not safe for players to play after not practicing for such a long time, then why are the Ravens putting these two players at risk by having them play in the game?
The bottom line is, the Baltimore Ravens are lying. They don’t want to play this game in Week 12 as they would much rather play it at the end of the season. They have been doing everything they can to delay this game as far as possible. Honestly, this organization is probably hoping they have more positive cases on Tuesday so they can move this game. Their season is on the line, and they are frankly too scared to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So what have the Ravens done? They’ve made excuses. Bad excuses to be precise. If this was truly a COVID-19 safety issue, I would be all for not playing the game. But that time has passed. Now they’re complaining about practice time, a luxury no other team has been given when their facilities were closed due to COVID-19. But if it really was about practice, then they can’t play the players who haven’t practiced.
So what will the NFL do about it? Will they continue to coddle and cave to every desire of the Baltimore Ravens? Or will they call out their nonsense? The Baltimore Ravens are trying to get the best of both worlds. They are trying to postpone this game in the name of player safety, but yet they will take back any player who would become available regardless of the same “player safety issues” they claim to be the problem.
Perhaps if the Baltimore Ravens could get their story straight we would have a better idea of if and when this game is going to be played. Even better, if only the NFL would actually stand up to one organization who feels that they are calling the shots this matter could be put to rest.