It took until Week 4 for COVID-19 to disrupt the NFL schedule.
The NFL made it official Wednesday morning that the game would be rescheduled to Monday or Tuesday:
The extra day or two gives the NFL more time for testing and contact tracing. The league may have hoped to keep the game on Sunday, but the more prudent approach was to wait.
NFL games have been postponed and canceled before
It’s not unprecedented for the NFL to move games from Sunday to a day or two later. We have seen it for snowstorms, stadium issues and even wildfires. There has even been postponements, most notably after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
When the Titans news broke Monday, the team had to immediately suspend in-person activities. Changing the day of the game isn’t ideal, but moving it to another week would have been complicated.
NFL expected positive tests
This is unlikely to be the last time this season a positive test leads to the NFL adjusting its schedule.
In a memo to teams obtained by ESPN, Goodell said the Titans news didn’t surprise the league.
“This is not unexpected,” Goodell said in the memo. “There will be players and staff who will test positive during the season.”
It’s easier for MLB to postpone games. It can play doubleheaders. The St. Louis Cardinals were shut down for a while due to a COVID-19 outbreak but ended up playing 58 of 60 scheduled games, with plenty of doubleheaders. The NFL can’t do the same. The schedule is fairly rigid and unless teams have the same bye week, moving a game to another week isn’t possible without shuffling multiple games around.
For now, the shift for Titans-Steelers was minor and Week 4 will go on mostly as scheduled. It probably won’t be the last time the NFL has to consider a schedule adjustment due to coronavirus.
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