As much as we fans did not want to see it happen, it has happened. The NFL has a COVID-19 outbreak on its hands.
Over this past week, more than a dozen Tennessee Titans players and staff have tested positive for the virus, along with a handful of players from other teams, including New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. This seemed inevitable considering the teams are not in a bubble like the NHL and NBA were.
It happened in the MLB as well, most notably causing the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals to miss significant chunks of their schedules as a result.
The MLB was able to make it work because of its ability to play doubleheaders to make up games.
The NFL does not have that luxury.
This Titans outbreak has caused the NFL to reschedule their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and potentially next week against the Buffalo Bills.
This could be a nightmare for the NFL.
Luckily, the NFL will be able to make up the Steelers-Titans game because of the way their specific schedules work out, but if any other games are postponed, it will be a mess.
The NFL had months to plan for this, yet one outbreak of the virus is threatening the season. How did the league let this happen?
Well, one reason is because the teams are not in a bubble. It really isn’t practical for the NFL to do that over a whole season.
You would like to trust that all the players and coaches would be safe, but all it takes is one person to mess up for this to happen. Or someone could just catch the virus unexpectedly because it is still a pandemic and the fact that you get it doesn’t always mean you did something wrong.
The NFL immediately shut down the Titans facility for at least a week when it learned of the cases. If this is the league’s plan, why allow teams to carry extra players on their rosters?
The NFL was lucky enough to be able to reschedule this game, but what if an outbreak happens in week 15? There will be no bye weeks left and the league’s ability to reschedule will be extremely limited unless it extends the season.
The NFL has dug a hole for itself. It was unrealistic to think the season was going to go off without a hitch, and now that the issue has arisen, the NFL seems totally unprepared for it.
The Steelers are now forced to use this week as a bye week, meaning there are 13 straight games ahead for them. All things considered, that is a minor issue, but unfortunate for them, nonetheless.
If no more teams have an outbreak, the NFL season will continue, but an outbreak or two late in the season could cause a doomsday scenario for the NFL, and you have to think postponing the season as a whole would be on the table at that point.
It sounds like an overreaction at this point, but we are not far off from something like that playing out.
Let’s hope it doesn’t.