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The 2021 NFL COVID-19 principles will not keep games from being rescheduled

If Steelers fans think what happened to the team in 2020 due to Covid outbreaks is now different, think again.

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL season still has several clouds floating over it among fans. The 11-game win streak to start the season has been pushed out by the oncoming cold front and overcast skies of losing five of six games, including the playoffs. to finish the season. Another cloud which still hangs over Pittsburgh was the shuffling of the 2020 schedule in which the Steelers lost both of their bye week and their “mini-bye week” due to COVID-19 outbreaks going on with their opponents.

On Thursday, the NFL released a memo which got a lot of people’s attention. In the memo, it outlines how the NFL will use forfeits of games that are not played in the 2021 season, and the clubs who will be responsible for those forfeits. Many people, not just Steelers fans, looked at the headlines based on said memo without diving into the finer details.

To sum it up: The games that were moved during the 2020 season, both those that included the Steelers and those that did not, would all happen again in 2021 if the situation arises.

That’s right folks, even if the 2021 rules were applied to last season, the Steelers would have played the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 and the Baltimore Ravens on a Wednesday afternoon in December rather than Thanksgiving night.

When it comes to the memo, it seems that the devil is in the details. But really it’s not. There is a phrase that was used multiple times in the memo:

If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule...

What this means is it the NFL will still move games around in order to make sure they are played. Whether it be switching the time, date, or even week of these games in order to make sure they are played is something they will continue to do. The biggest difference in 2021 is they have already ruled out adding a week to the end of the season before the playoffs in order to play any games which weren’t able to be held during the regular season.

But the NFL didn’t have to do that in 2020.

The other thing which was outlined in the memo is how a forfeit would work. It lays out which team would be held responsible, how these games would affect team’s records, and how players would not be paid their weekly salary because the game is not played.

So to recap, what’s new for 2021 in the memo that was sent out Thursday is that there will not be an extra week added to the end of the season to reschedule games, and teams will be held responsible if forced to forfeit. Neither one of these items happened in 2020, so the NFL is just being proactive about what they are doing going into this season.

If you still don’t believe this is what the memo meant, you can read it for yourself here courtesy of NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

If you really don’t feel like churning through the four-page document, you could listen to additional breakdown on NFL Network courtesy of Mike Garafolo which lays out how games can still be moved:

Another issue which came up in 2020 and will continue in 2021 is rescheduling a game simply because certain players are not available. One example fro 2020 is the Denver Broncos not having any of their quarterbacks available which ultimately was not a reason to postpone the game. This will also be the case for 2021.

What isn’t laid out is exactly what would classify a team needing to have a game postponed, rescheduled, or forfeited. In 2020, it came down to if a team was experiencing an outbreak and if playing the game would cause a greater spread. Exactly what that would take in 2021 remains to be seen, hence why the memo specifically says:

Postponements will only occur if required by government authorities, medical experts, or the Commissioner’s discretion.

The key here is “the Commissioner’s discretion” which most NFL fans realize is the league’s way of being able to do whatever they want if they need to play this card.

This wasn’t meant to bring up the issue of whether or not the players fall in the vaccinated or unvaccinated category or things of that nature. Instead, this was simply trying to get the correct information out to Steelers fans so we don’t have to hear “they should have to forfeit” much like we did last season. The NFL has laid it out and said that they will use forfeits, but everything that happened to the Steelers last year didn’t fit the criteria then, and still won’t fit the criteria now.