The Washington Football Team, in a typically dysfunctional manner, had 23 players enter COVID-19 protocols since last week, including quarterback Taylor Heinicke. That’s the most in the league.
The NFL then violated its own COVID-19 protocols and decided to postpone Washington’s game against the Eagles in Philadelphia from Sunday at 1 p.m. to Tuesday at 7 p.m. What should have happened is, Washington was supposed to scramble to fill a roster, take the field with whatever bodies it could muster, then accept the consequences of an outbreak. Remember, anti-vax defensive end Montez Sweat was the first to pop, and the dominoes fell as expected.
Also, the WFT is one of only two teams with a vaccination rate below 95%, according to a league source.
And if the WFT couldn’t get enough guys dressed, then they should forfeit.
But what was the NFL’s solution to Washington’s folly?
Penalize the Eagles.
Make them, after a bye week, wait two more days to play.
Make them play Game 14 on what’s now a short week, thereby erasing the advantage of having a bye in the first place.
What’s more: Sweat, who has 20 sacks in his first 40 NFL games, came off the COVID list Saturday.
Brilliant. Well done, NFL.
The league is blaming the NFLPA and its commitment to player safety. Please.
If the union was concerned about player safety, it would have agreed to a vaccine mandate. If the players were truly concerned about spreading the disease, they’d make sure Aaron Rodgers and Cole Beasley would be less likely to contract the coronavirus, be better equipped to fight the virus if they contracted it, and less likely to infect Aunt Bessie at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Player safety? Get out of my face with that.
Safety? The Browns, who are believed to have one unvaccinated player, had 19 players enter COVID-19 protocols this week — but only after Browns players insisted that all asymptomatic players get tested Thursday. The Browns’ game against visiting Las Vegas was moved from Saturday to Monday at 5 p.m. Seattle will visit the addled Rams, with 16 players in protocols, at the same time the Birds host the WFT.
This is the reason behind expanded practice squads. Every team has access to enough players to play. None of the players who are completely healthy having not played this season is more likely to get injured than a player playing his 14th game. That argument is a smokescreen. Why not just play with lesser players?
The NFL cares about money. This maximizes viewership. Two Monday night football games, and two Tuesday night games, with no college football for competition? Cha-ching.
That’s why Washington-Philadelphia will happen, bastardized and unfair.
It is the cowardice of the NFL’s union leadership, and of all sports unions, which have denied vaccine mandates from the start. This is what they’ve sowed. This is what they should reap.
The union is protecting its unvaccinated players — a mad minority, since 96% of the league is vaxxed — by floating the theory that contraction and transmission is happening away from team facilities. Yeah, as if Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, confirmed nerd-oppotamus, got COVID from rubbing up against people at da club.
If the league believes that infections are coming from players being cavalier away from the facilities — going to restaurants, bars, barbers, or whatever — then the penalty applies doubly. Besides, it doesn’t matter where they get it. It matters that they get it. And they’re all getting it at the same time, and they’re not all going to the same masseuse.
The NFL will almost certainly change its rules about playing with COVID-19; if vaccinated players are asymptomatic, they should strap up and go. We’ve learned that the likelihood of transmitting the virus outdoors is minuscule. If the NFL or NFLPA is really worried about in-game transmission, have players wear masks on the field. Kids all over the country played sports in the summers and winters of 2020 and 2021 in masks.
Look, the Washington Football Team made its bed. They should lie in it. Call it sloppy adherence. Call it a culture of irresponsibility. Call it bad luck. Whatever. You don’t change the rules for one team, or three teams, or whatever — especially not for a team as rotten, top to bottom, as Daniel Snyder’s.
If it happened to the Eagles, so be it. Frankly, my anger would be greater. Because I know these guys, and I know which ones are knuckleheads — which ones wear masks only when they have to, or when they think you’re not looking. I know which ones are irresponsible. I know which ones are selfish and don’t care about their teammates or their teams as much as they care about their own inconvenience, awash in their ignorance and self-importance and idiocy.
So what if Garrett Gilbert has to play quarterback.
The Broncos had to start wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback when they had a COVID-19 outbreak last season. They’re probably delighted that the absences of Browns starter Baker Mayfield and Heinicke are so much more important than the absence of Drew Lock. Broncos president John Elway begged Goodell to postpone that game. Goodell ignored him.
Now, the NFL looks ridiculous. The Washington Football Team looks like a clown show. These developments are par for the course.
And here’s the message: Eagles, you did everything right. You even entered enhanced protocols early this week, before the league made it mandatory.
Here’s your reward: You play a team that should’ve been hamstrung by its irresponsibility two days later, less hamstrung than it should have been. Then, as a bonus, next week you get to play another crucial division game on a short week.