First, the Ravens and Steelers were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving night. Then it was Sunday afternoon, and then Tuesday night. Finally, the NFL settled on a rare Wednesday afternoon game for the league's preeminent rivalry. The moves were all the result of trying to contain the Ravens' coronavirus outbreak.
During halftime of this unusual game to end Week 12, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with Mike Tirico on NBC to explain the NFL's decision-making process during the week, and how they ultimately determined it would be safe to play the game.
"Our protocols are established with the health and safety of our players and personnel in mind, and that’s our first priority," Goodell said. "We developed these protocols with our Player’s Association, we believe they’ve been very effective in identifying and isolating, controlling and containing the virus."
After a general statement about how the NFL has approached playing during a pandemic, Goodell went into more detail about the specific situation in Baltimore.
"In the Baltimore case, we were concerned with the containment, we saw a number of positives the last 10 days," Goodell said. "Health and safety people and our medical experts did a wonderful job tracing the virus, and making sure we understood where it was generated from and how it was spreading. And by having the delays of a couple days that gave us the confidence that we understood where the virus was coming from, how it was continuing to spread, and that we were in the last stage of that and comfortable that the game could be played."
The NFL has made it clear it viewed adding a week to the end of the NFL season as a last resort, which is why the league was willing to move such a high profile game to such unorthodox times.
This isn't the first NFL game to be shifted around this season, and if cases continue to rise around the league, it won't be the last. Either way, the NFL will have to continue relying on its established safety protocols moving forward.