Week 15 is busy in the NFL as covid is spreading rapidly across the league. Currently, as of this article, five teams have double-digit positive cases with just players (Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, L.A. Chargers, L.A. Rams, Washington Football Team.) With over 100 players testing positive league-wide the schedule is about to be shifted before the weekend games kick-off.
Covid Testing Rule Change
Thursday the NFL responded with the covid spike by adjusting the rules. For vaccinated players, they can test out of covid protocol after one day of being asymptomatic with two different negative tests. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills explained new test results that the league will implement to know when a player is no longer contagious. This allows players that are vaccinated better odds to be able to play this weekend and for the rest of the season.
The spread of covid is forcing the league to reschedule games.
Here is the list of games moving two days later.
Las Vegas Raider vs Clevland Browns, the game slated for Saturday has been moved to Monday, December 20th, 2PM PT
Washington Football Team vs Philadelphia Eagles, the game slated for Sunday has been moved to Tuesday, December 21st, 2PM PT
Seattle Seahawks vs Los Angles Rams, The game slated for Sunday has been moved to December 21st, 4PM PT
Before the season the league vowed to not postpone games and talked about the outbreak team forfeiting the game with their paychecks. The Raiders, Eagles, Seahawks are unhappy with the changes having to move and play the following week on short rest. The Eagles and Seahawks will have four days off after their Tuesday matchups. The NFL threatened before the season forfeiture to clubs with covid outbreaks.
In fairness, over 94% of NFL players are vaccinated according to the NFL. Forfeiting games with the majority of teams vaccinated seems harsh. Though in the end, Seattle has only two positives and only had a couple of positive cases last season as well. They take the right protocols to prevent positives and now must move their games for their opponent. Seattle now is forced to travel later in the week to play a challenging divisional rival to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Gregg Bell, Seahawks beat writer for Tacoma News Tribune shared a tweet with a memo from the NFL in July that games this season would not be postponed or rescheduled. The full article from the league can be found here.
A lot of Seattle fans and likely players are upset with being penalized due to their opponent’s status. Even former Seahawks player K.J. Wright is upset on Twitter with his team The Raiders playing Monday. K.J. Wright on Twitter says “ I would say play or forfeit” sharing his thoughts on postponed games.
Twitter is filled with players and fanbases turning into policy dissecting sleuths. Some say forfeit can only be due to an unvaccinated player causing the outbreak. Only if the league couldn’t reschedule games. According to Senior NFL Writer for Yahoo Charles Robinson, the three outbreak teams were on the verge of forfeits. To paraphrase Robinsons tweets, the players union argued the outbreak happened despite following protocol. The union wanted to allow all six teams to be paid and not lose game day checks for them all if a forfeit happened.
Watch the Covid List
Here’s a list as of Friday, December 17th to watch for Tuesday’s matchup. With the new rule, one day is all that’s needed for vaccinated players.
RB Alex Collins
WR Tyler Lockett
CB Jalen Ramsey
OT Rob Havenstein
DB Dont’e Deayon
DB Terrell Burgess
TE Brycen Hopkins
DB JuJu Hughes
T AJ Jackson
NT Sebastian Joseph-Day
S Jordan Fuller
RB Darrell Henderson Jr.
LB Justin Hollins
TE Johnny Mundt
WR Odell Beckham Jr. announced he tested positive meaning he should be one of many coming off the list in time for Tuesday’s game. Most of the players the Rams had out should be back in time for the game thanks to the postponement. With the way the league is spreading the virus, new names could be added on over the weekend.
Playoff races will be severely impacted by the changes covid presented. Seattle will look to survive the impossible season and grow momentum for a playoff push in L.A. Tuesday night.