The Cleveland Browns have been dealing with a locker room COVID-19 outbreak for about the past three weeks. Their issues have continued to spread throughout their locker room and as they now prepare for the playoffs for the first time since 2002, it couldn't have come at a worse time. Now, the Browns will have to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers without their head coach and a plethora of starters. This is something that could potentially effect every team that's still in the tournament.
Now, more than ever, the players’ decisions will effect this year’s Super Bowl champion. Choosing to stay home and avoiding contact with others could be the difference on the field on Saturdays or Sundays this postseason. It is the unfortunate nature of the 2020/2021 season, but with so much on the line, players must treat the next five weeks with the utmost caution.
The #Browns-#Steelers playoff game remains on as scheduled Sunday night, source said, but the five in Cleveland who tested positive for COVID-19 today -- including head coach Kevin Stefanski -- are out. Contact tracing and genomic sequencing ongoing.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 5, 2021
Imagine Losing Ben Roethlisberger, or Patrick Mahomes, the morning of a playoff game. This is a situation that could happen any given week, and would be absolutely back breaking.
The Browns will now have to face off against against Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cameron Heyward without their Pro Bowl guard, Joel Bitonio. Instead, they will have to roll out former AAF guard, Michael Dunn. From a five star matchup to one in which a rested Cam Heyward should dominate. And it didn't happen because of an injury, but because someone contracted the coronavirus.
The NFL has said on multiple occasions this 2020 season wouldn't be fair when it came to COVID-19. There is no way for the league to pause games because of a few positive tests. Now, here in the playoffs it is as important for players to see themselves out of situations which could put their team in jeopardy. In all likelihood, the most disciplined team will end up wining this year’s Super Bowl.
If the Broncos playing yesterday and the Ravens being forced to play tomorrow doesn’t send a clear message that the NFL doesn’t give a damn about competitive fairness then I don’t know what will.— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) November 30, 2020
In the Steelers’ case, the entire organization has bought in all year. From no one opting out prior to the season, and, as of this moment, not having a locker room outbreak. It would be a shame for all of that hard work to come to an end now. It would also be a shame for more games to be decided on a team’s run in with the coronavirus.
What do you think? Are you worried about the Steelers, or any other team, losing a playoff game because of missing players due to COVID-19? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.