Baker Mayfield Rips NFL COVID Policy | League Pressures Mean Potential Postponement

We have a problem in the NFL. We’ve had this problem since March 2020, and it isn’t going away. We live in a COVID world. Until enough people are vaccinated so as to limit rapid mutations and we all participate in good public health practices, this will be the reality.

The omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has caused a sharp increase in positive cases around the world. According to the World Health Organization, this strain is more contagious and is spreading at an exponential rate.

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The NFL has seen a record number of players enter the league’s COVID health and safety protocols this week, prompting a change to the existing regulations.

“Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel,” the league said in a statement. “We will continue to strongly encourage the booster shots as the most effective protection. Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19.”

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield expressed his frustration this week amid all the positive tests during a week of game planning.

Mayfield’s point is valid and is the elephant in the room. The NFL’s 32 owners and commissioner Roger Goodell are interested in completing an entire season with no interruptions and making all the money they can this season.

Postponing games seems like the baseline, given the positive case rate. But in a multibillion-dollar week-to-week league with a single elimination championship tournament, cancellation is not an option.

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The NFL has moved the week 15 matchup between the Raiders and Browns to Monday Dec. 20, and the Eagles game against the Washington Football Team and Seahawks and Rams game is also being moved to Tuesday Dec. 21.

What a mess!

Postponing games allows the NFL a couple days to move asymptomatic COVID-positive players out of protocol so they are eligible to play. Football is a high-injury sport, and teams need as many bodies as possible during a game.

The reality is we shouldn’t be playing any of these games. But short of a nuclear disaster, the games will go on. So let’s look at what postponing these games means.

Pushing games to Tuesday is going to impact preparation for week 16 games. Also, which teams will be at a competitive disadvantage having to play two games in five days? We already see what happens when teams have the Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround.

It’s not pretty.

But football players largely do what they’re told and don’t really have the agency to do anything but play. No games, no game checks. For players towards the middle and back of 53-man rosters that money is needed.

All parties involved, including fans, know what this is. If people routinely tune in to a game where players are involved in mini car crashes multiple times over the course of a few hours why would the NFL even consider doing anything different? The violence is already inherent.

Given the postponements and the already existing schedule, there will be NFL games on the following days: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

What if one of the unintended consequences of COVID was the use case that there could be NFL games played every day of the week? The NFL and its fans would love it, regardless of any negative impact.

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