The N.F.L. on Friday rescheduled three of this weekend’s video games as an outbreak of the coronavirus amongst gamers threatens the league’s potential to carry a few of its most vital video games within the final weeks of the common season.
Games between Las Vegas and Cleveland, Washington and Philadelphia, and Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams — which embody the groups with the worst outbreaks — had been all postponed by two days, league officers introduced.
In a information launch, the N.F.L. mentioned that the scheduled adjustments had been vital due to a “new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league.” That was a reference to the Omicron variant, which has been spreading all over the world because it was first recognized in Southern Africa on the finish of November.
More than 130 N.F.L. gamers had been positioned on their groups’ reserve/Covid-19 lists this week, with new gamers being added seemingly each jiffy. At least 20 Washington gamers had both optimistic or inconclusive exams for the virus, together with quarterbacks Taylor Heinecke and Kyle Allen, which might have left the staff with a swiftly signed observe squad quarterback main the staff on Sunday earlier than the schedule adjustments. The Browns and Rams have additionally had greater than 10 gamers take a look at optimistic for the virus.
Besides the schedule adjustments, the N.F.L. has additionally tightened its necessary well being protocols, reimposing measures like masks sporting, digital conferences and restrictions on actions outdoors of staff services that had been in place final season earlier than vaccines had been broadly accessible.
If the outbreak worsens, the N.F.L. has little room to maneuver. Only 4 extra weeks of its common season stay, and there are not any breaks within the schedule in addition to the week earlier than the Super Bowl, which is scheduled for Feb. 13. Games can’t be performed in fast succession, like in different leagues, due to the mandatory restoration time for groups between video games. And with simply 17 common season video games, a forfeit or recreation that can’t be rescheduled might drastically have an effect on who qualifies for the playoffs.