Earlier this week it was announced that five members on the Ravens tested positive for COVID-19, including running backs J.K Dobbins and Mark Ingram. The Ravens closed their practice facility on Monday so they can conduct its contact tracing protocols, CBS News reports.
On Wednesday, a total of five Ravens players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19, which prompted the NFL to postpone the Steelers-Ravens game to Sunday instead Thanksgiving Night, US News reports.
Many Steelers players reacted to the announcement in anger and frustration. Steelers star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster tweeted in frustration “First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.”
Other players had their opinions on the decision as well, including tight end Eric Ebron, cornerback Mike Hilton and wide receiver Chase Claypool:
to talk about what exactly? how they keep F**in us. we had a week 4 bye cause of this, now the only time we look forward to some rest was after one of the biggest PRIMETIME games we no longer have. we keep getting screwed this year. https://t.co/926ImapBOO
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) November 25, 2020
— Mike Hilton (@MikeHilton_28) November 25, 2020
What a joke….
— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) November 25, 2020
Linebacker Vince Williams took the news a lot more understanding than his other teammates, however he explained why his team and fans may be upset at the situation. “We were in a practice and one of the guys came over and was upset. He was like, ‘the game just got moved’ and I was like ‘what’? I was really shocked when I heard that news,” said Williams to the Fan. “Everyone was just excited about it, rivalry game with the Ravens. Everybody was amped up. We’ve been all locked in for the last couple of days. Then it gets moved to Sunday at 1, not in prime-time.”
The Ravens have also punished strength and conditioning coach, “for not reporting symptoms and not consistently wearing a mask or tracking device” Sports Illustrated reports.
The NFL have been strict about their coronavirus protocols throughout the season. This is not the first time the Steelers have been affected over this as their BYE week was taken away after the Tennessee Titans coronavirus outbreak on the team earlier in the season.
With the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak beginning to form in the U.S, the NFL did not hesitate to move the game due to the nine members on the Ravens testing positive. Because many players on the Steelers, even in football in general, have been anticipating this game on Thursday Night, it makes it frustrating for many to hear the news that the game will not go as planned.
Because of the second wave, the NFL announced its updated COVID-19 protocols that now includes:
- Beginning Week 12, the maximum number of players able to travel to road games will be reduced to 62. To ensure equity, teams must submit a list of players designated as eligible to attend and/or play by 4 p.m. ET the day before game day to the league office.
- Play-callers will no be required to wear a face mask or double-layered gaiter in addition to a face shied to be consistent with all other coaches who choose to wear face shields.
- Postgame interactions between players and/or staff will be limited.
- Starting Nov. 30, access to club facilities will be limited to those designated as “Essential Football, Essential Support or Other Medical/Special Services.” All others must now work remotely or a separate facility.
- Beginning with Week 13 games, all members of teams’ traveling parties must wear N95 or KN95 masks on the team plane and on the team bus.
The NFL made a respectful and smart move moving the game from Thursday to Sunday. This gives the players time to retest to negative and make sure that no other players are experiencing any symptoms. Though many have been anticipating an exciting game for Thanksgiving Night, the health and safety of its players is the NFL’s number one priority and that includes making difficult decisions like this.
The Steelers and Ravens will still take place at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh but will be moved to Sunday afternoon at 1 pm EST if there is no further positive tests that come out of the Ravens.