The NFL saw a spike in COVID-19 cases week 12. Yahoo Sports Reporter Charles Robinson joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.
- Charles, good to have you back on here, man. We were talking about this last time. Obviously, it was just the beginning of seeing more teams. There have been some that have struggled with this so far this season. But now it seems like a widespread issue, with games getting rescheduled left and right here. So how do you see the shaping up as we approach the playoffs?
CHARLES ROBINSON: Well, the NFL is on a break now. The Baltimore Ravens have had the longest spate of continued infection that the league has seen this year. It's now eight straight days-- or at least it was eight straight days through the weekend-- that the Ravens had new infections every single day, to the point where you're now looking at a COVID list that has had 20 players on it in that rolling period. And for the NFL, that's the biggest concern at this stage.
When you talk about potentially pushing a week, postponing a week for everybody, and pushing everything a week back into January-- and then the Super Bowl, obviously, a week-- it's all about whether or not the teams can take the field safely. And the NFL made a pretty unambiguous gesture with the Denver Broncos. Now, the Broncos-- obviously, Kendall Hinton, practice squad wide receiver, ends up playing quarterback for the Broncos this weekend against the Saints after the Broncos had some contact tracing that showed that, basically, the entire quarterback room could have been infected after one quarterback came back positive.
Essentially what the NFL did was they looked at the Broncos and said, look, you're at a competitive disadvantage, but it's not a safety issue. It's a competitive issue, and that's on you. It's on you to keep your team safe, healthy, make sure mask protocols are being followed. And if you don't do that, and it becomes a competitive issue, we're not stepping in and bumping the schedule for you and really changing up the matrix of how the rest of this season is supposed to operate.
Now, the Ravens right now, that's a completely different situation. They tried to take the practice field Monday morning. The NFL put the brakes on that, said, we need to push it back at least to later afternoon on Monday, to see if they can get some additional testing figures back.
The Ravens have shown, for the first time, there is a serious and significant safety issue potentially brewing. And I would say that Tuesday game is the closest-- with the Steelers, that Tuesday game between the Ravens and the Steelers-- that's as close as we've come to seeing the NFL bump a game and extend the season by one entire week.
- And Charles, the league can say they're doing everything they can to make sure it's safe. The individual teams can be doing things. But then you've got an issue like Santa Clara County, where then the Niners play. Essentially, the county's saying, I don't care what you say, there will be no sports being played or gatherings through December 21. So then what happens for the NFL? At one point, do they start to run out of options?
CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah, well, that obviously is different. The NFL-- as you said, Santa Clara County has said, no contact sports for a period of at least three weeks. Now, that's going to impact two 49ers home games, obviously, because Levi's Stadium is right in the center of that county.
And the NFL, in that scenario-- there had been some talk entering the season. Look, if this happens where a state locality or a local government body, be it a county, decides that, look, we're not going to let people get into a stadium, or we're not going to allow sports to continue within our county, there's going to have to be an adjustment. In some sense, the NFL has prepared for this.
Now, the mobilization that's taking place right now is just trying to find a place for the 49ers to play, whether that's in Las Vegas. They're looking at, potentially, other stadiums in California, something nearby where the 49ers wouldn't have to travel monumentally far to get a game that takes place. But this is part of what the NFL ownership groups were warned about when the season began-- that, hey, there's not going to be a fair and balanced season.
There are going to be some situations in some states that aren't going to occur in others, like Florida. All those states are going to have an advantage over California, because Florida has been a wide-open state when it's come to COVID protocols, both on a local level, and a statewide level, whereas California has been much more locked down.
So I think the 49ers, the Rams, the Chargers have all known there is a possibility that, at some point, we could have home games bumped to a different locality. They're not happy about it. But this is what everyone went into this scenario with their eyes wide open. And the NFL is just trying to help the 49ers adjust the best they can.
- Yeah. Charles, that Florida point you raised there might be a boost for having the Super Bowl there at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. But it doesn't address those concerns about players, or potentially the game with those players, getting postponed as well. Not to force a business angle, but we've talked a lot about advertisers and how big of an issue that would be if this continues as we approach playoffs, and the Super Bowl as well. But Charles Robinson, Yahoo Sports reporter, appreciate you coming on today to chat that with us.