The NFL has decided to move the Steelers-Ravens game scheduled for Thanksgiving to Sunday, and players are not happy.
For the second time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are having their schedule altered by the NFL due to another team’s COVID situation.
The league announced on Wednesday that Thursday’s Steelers-Ravens matchup will be moved to Sunday. This decision came after multiple players in the Ravens locker room — including starting running back Mark Ingram and his backup JK Dobbins — tested positive for COVID-19. Adding to the powder keg situation was the fact that news broke a little over 24 hours before kickoff.
Needless to say, this once again has set Steelers players off, and you really can’t blame them.
Perhaps putting it best was JuJu Smith-Schuster, who pointed out that this is not the first time this season the NFL has tinkered with the Steelers schedule because another team couldn’t follow COVID protocol. Earlier this year, the NFL essentially took away the Steelers’ bye week after the Tennessee Titans violated COVID protocol and forced a postponement in October. As a result, the Steelers bye week was moved from it’s original place in the schedule to Week 4, which is fine in theory but not in practice — literally.
It’s hard to overstate how physically important a bye week is for players. It’s a true week off, allowing bodies being put under the extreme conditions football creates to heal and rest. It’s carefully calculated into a team’s routine, and to alter it without warning throws off more than just your fantasy lineup. Pittsburgh’s bye week was moved to Week 4 but the players practiced most of the week before the decision was made, which means they were robbed of that critical week of rest that almost every other team in the league will get this season.
“First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason,” Smith-Schuster tweeted on Wednesday.
His Steelers teammates shared the sentiment.
The Steelers are the only remaining undefeated team in the league, and Thursday’s showdown with the Ravens carried enormous weight. Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore just five weeks ago and was in line to claim a crucial tiebreaker with a win tomorrow. Not to mention this move complicates the Steelers path to a 16-0 season, one that with each passing week seems more and more likely.
While the game is still scheduled to be played, Pittsburgh’s preparation for a huge game being disrupted by the league for a second time this year is a justified source of frustration for fans and players. Pittsburgh was able to beat the Titans after that game was moved, and now fans are hoping the Steelers can navigate rough waters twice.