The NFL royally screwed up — not that the league ever will admit it.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 one day after New England played the Kansas City Chiefs and four days after quarterback Cam Newton registered a positive test.
The NFL should have rescheduled the Patriots-Chiefs game knowing other players on New England’s roster likely had been exposed to the virus. It didn’t. It ignored incubation periods, foolishly cheered as negative tests rolled in Saturday, Sunday and Monday and marched on with the game, potentially spreading the virus even further.
There’s no known plan for how the NFL intends to reschedule games unless it lucks out and bye weeks line up like they did for the postponed Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game.
Here’s a possibility:
Add another week to the season and split up one of the later weeks to give every team a second bye.
Let’s use Week 13 as an example. Have half of the games played as scheduled in Week 13 and the other half a week later. Then move the rest of the schedule back a week. If a game has to be postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak, adjust accordingly, reshuffle if needed and schedule it for one of those two weeks.
It’s a superior option than simply adding a Week 18, throwing all of the rescheduled games at the end of the season and potentially giving teams two bye weeks before the playoffs. It’s better to give players an additional bye during the season, and if half of the teams are playing one week and half are playing the next, then the NFL still can have a nearly full slate of televised games.
Stubbornness on the NFL’s part is not going to make the virus go away. It needs to be proactive and devise a plan so this doesn’t happen again.