- The Thanksgiving Day game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has been rescheduled to Sunday.
- Baltimore has 7 players on the reserve/COVID-19 with two being added on Wednesday.
- The Ravens have disciplined an ‘unnamed staffer’ for ‘unknown reasons’ due to his conduct relative to the current outbreak.
The Thanksgiving Day menu will be a bit light this year. No, I’m not talking about ‘social distancing’ or anything like that. It’s a ‘food metaphor’. I’m talking about the traditional menu of NFL football games on Thanksgiving Day. In a world replete with phony traditions–and sports is lousy with them–NFL football on Thanksgiving Day is a legitimate one. Sure, the three game slate is relatively new dating back only to 2006 but the tradition itself goes back to 1920.
Thanksgiving 2020 will be remembered for all sorts of things due to the COVID-19 pandemic but among them will be an unintended reduction in the number of NFL games played. The AFC North rivalry game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was scheduled originally to be the ‘marquee’ Thanksgiving Day game airing in prime time starting at 5:20 PM Pacific. Instead it will be postponed to Sunday, November 29 at 10:00 AM Pacific due to a significant COVID-19 outbreak among Baltimore’s players and staff.
As of Wednesday evening, the Ravens have experienced at least 10 positive tests among players, coaches and staff. The most significant of these among the Ravens’ roster are running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins. Both have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game. They were ruled out of the original Thanksgiving scheduled game but there are several scenarios in which either or both running backs could play. Here’s how SteelersWire explained what would have to happen:
Bottom line: If Dobbins or Ingram did not have symptoms and test negative twice consecutively before Saturday, there’s a possibility for one or both to be in the lineup on Sunday. Everything would have to fall into place.
The symptomatic/asymptomatic distinction is crucial. If either or both players have COVID-19 symptoms they’ll have to quarantine for 10 days from the time the first signs of illness appeared. SteelersWire also posted this helpful graphic that outlines the two scenarios:
Also testing positive are Matt Skura, Patrick Mekari and Calais Campbell. In addition, Brandon Williams and Pernell McPhee have been added to the Reserve/Covid-19 list due to contact tracing. Finally, what is being described as ‘several coaches’ have also tested positive.
Another change in the game due to the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic–no fans will be allowed to attend the contest at Heinz Field due to more restrictive measures announced on large gatherings earlier this week:
Making this situation even more strange is the announcement that the Ravens have already isolated a ‘scapegoat’. The team has ‘disciplined a staff member for conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff at the Ravens’:
It wasn’t long after this announcement hit ‘The Twitter’ that CBS Sports’ NFL reporter Jason La Canfora provided some more information:
The speculation is that the Ravens could get a similar punishment to the one that the Las Vegas Raiders received earlier this year–losing a 2021 sixth-round draft choice and a total of $650k in fines. The ‘punishment’ to the unnamed Ravens’ coach could also be a pre-emptive move hoping to prevent a more in depth investigation by the league similar the move by college basketball programs of ‘self reporting’ NCAA violations hoping to avoid more severe penalties. By now, there’s been enough situations like this in the sports world and more often than not the problem is systemic. Typically, there is an overall vibe among a team that they don’t have to take COVID-19 protocols too seriously when that is obviously not the case. Translation–it’s doubtful that the problem began or ended with the unnamed strength and conditioning coach.