The NFL has decided to move the Cleveland Browns matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders to Monday, December 20, something the Raiders are not too happy about.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Raiders were pushing the league to declare the matchup a forfeit.
“The Las Vegas Raiders have been made aware that the league is discussing a potential scheduling change with the Browns game, per source,” Fowler tweeted before the change went final. “Las Vegas has been fighting it, believing that protocols over the summer were clear that teams with outbreaks had to forfeit.”
Fowler followed that up with another tweet, writing: “Browns’ high vaccination rate probably takes forfeit off table, and variance surge is a new issue.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis fought against the move, saying that it put his team at a “competitive disadvantage.” He suggested that Cleveland traveling to Las Vegas would make it more “fair,” per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.
Kevin Seifert also pointed out some key points about the forfeit rules.
“The way I read it, no game could be forfeited without first an attempt to reschedule, which has happened,” Seifert tweeted. “If it has to be delayed again, and can’t be rescheduled, then the NFL goes to the next step: Was the outbreak triggered by an unvaccinated player?”
Another key note: Players would not be paid for a forfeited game.
League Says Flexibility Was Needed to Reach Decision
The league explained their decision to postpone the matchup — as well as two other games — in a release.
“We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league,” the release read. “We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community.”
Roger Goodell also released a memo talking about the move, saying: “The emergence of the omicron variant is precisely the kind of change that warrants a flexible response.”
Browns Were Upset Over How Testing Was Handled
The Browns were not happy with how the testing unfolded on Thursday, with more players being added to the list
“Today was real strange in which they went about testing, or I guess lack of testing,’’ Garrett said on a conference call Thursday. “Today they were saying that we weren’t going to test, we were just going to go into the building, even though we might have a couple more guys pop up as positive. It almost seemed like we were just ignoring it instead of addressing the issue. We should go ahead and test and then allow people into the building, not before you get your results, and that’s how it should be.’’
Garrett previously had COVID-19 and dealt with symptoms. He is doing all he can to avoid it.
“I’m trying to get my work done myself and walking through, getting some conditioning and just trying to take precaution for myself,’’ Garrett said. “I know how it affected me, so I’m not trying to catch it, even if I’m asymptomatic this time around. No telling what it could do to my loved ones and what happened with them last year. But the guys looked fine, looked in high spirits, a bit confused, but in high spirits and ready to go.”
Baker Mayfield also called out the NFL, pointing out their interest in money over player safety.
“NFL make up your damn mind on protocols,” Mayfield tweeted on Thursday. “Showing up and making only 3 teams test?!? All so you can keep the game as scheduled to make money.”
He continued: “Actually caring about player safety would mean delaying the game with this continuing at the rate it is…. But to say you won’t test vaccinated players if they don’t have symptoms, then to pull this randomly. Doesn’t make any sense to me.”
The Browns now have a shot to get more players active by Monday, although much uncertainty still remains on who will be able to clear the new protocols. The team signed quarterback Kyle Lauletta on Friday as a key move, with both Mayfield and backup Case Keenum on the reserve/COVID-19 list.