The NFL has made multiple schedule changes due to COVID-19 outbreaks around the league. For the Seattle Seahawks, this means that the game against the Los Angeles Rams will now take place on Tuesday, December 21.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and FOX’s Jay Glazer broke the news on Friday, December 17. The two insiders confirmed that the NFC West tilt was one of the games likely moving due to COVID-19, along with a confirmed reschedule of the game between the Raiders and Browns. The NFL then sent out a memo confirming the schedule change and citing both medical advice received and a discussion with the NFLPA.
According to Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seahawks “would not at all be happy” about the schedule change. The primary reason is that head coach Pete Carroll and other members of the team spent the week discussing all of the extra steps they have taken to prevent outbreaks and keep each other healthy, resulting in only two positive tests while other teams dealt with dozens.
Russell Wilson, in particular, told media members that he is “triple-vaxxed” and that he has undergone tests nearly every day at his home. He also takes multiple tests each week at the team facility.
The Seahawks have taken extra steps to ensure that there are no COVID-related issues in the locker room. Those have been in vain considering that the game still moved to a late date due to another team’s number of positive tests.
The Raiders-Browns game moved to Monday at 5 p.m. ET and formed a doubleheader with the Vikings-Bears game (8:20 p.m. ET). The Seahawks-Rams game and Eagles-Football Team NFC East battle both air at 7 p.m. ET on FOX.
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The Seahawks Remained at a Competitive Disadvantage
With the game potentially moving to December 21, the situation surrounding the NFC West game drastically changed. The Rams headed toward the weekend with 25 players on the COVID/Reserve list while the Seahawks only had two — Tyler Lockett and Alex Collins.
Moving the game provided the Rams with ample time to get all of the players back on the roster with enough negative tests. Instead of facing a shorthanded team, the Seahawks now have to head to Los Angeles for a battle with a potentially full roster.
The other issue with the change is that the game disrupted the schedule. The Seahawks now have a very short turnaround before hosting the Bears at Lumen Field on Sunday, December 26 (4:05 p.m. ET). Though the Rams will have a similar turnaround before hosting the Vikings on December 26.
Many NFL Players Expected Forfeited Games.
While many players around the league expressed anger about the moved schedule, others brought up a different point. They asked about forfeited games and an NFL memo that the league had sent in July.
“We agreed that their [sic] wouldn’t be any postponed game this season right?!” former Seahawks linebacker KJ Wright tweeted as reports of rescheduled games began to circulate. He continued and said that he paid his dues to “get lied to” and have the “rules bent.” Wright also tagged both the NFL and the NFLPA to express his displeasure.
“In light of the substantial roster flexibility in place for the 2021 season, absent medical considerations or government directives, games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness affecting multiple players, even within a position group,” the memo from July said, per NFL Media. The memo continued and said that burden of a canceled game would fall upon the organization with the outbreak.
“…If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule and is cancelled due to a Covid outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the club with the outbreak will forfeit the contest and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc. For the purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.”
There are two small details from Roger Goodell’s memo that played a role in the decision to move the games instead of canceling them. The first is that the NFL Commissioner specifically mentioned an outbreak among “unvaccinated” teams. The teams dealing with the outbreaks have high levels of vaccinations.
The other detail is that players from both teams would lose their game checks. The memo specifically mentioned that the players would not receive payment for canceled games.