For a third time, the National Football League will postpone its Week 12 matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers due to Covid-19.
The league received new Covid-19 testing results Monday, prompting a postponement to Wednesday, according to person familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous because they can't comment publicly on league matters. According to ESPN, one member of the Ravens did test positive for Covid-19 in the most recent testing.
On Monday, the league canceled Baltimore's practice session before the team departed for Pittsburgh. The Ravens and Steelers were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving Day, but the game was moved to Sunday. After the NFL identified additional positives from the Ravens, the league moved the game to Tuesday.
The Ravens revealed positive Covid-19 tests for over 20 members. It's become the biggest outbreak on an NFL team since the Tennessee Titans' episode, which prompted a Week 4 postponement against the Steelers. The Titans were fined $350,000 for violating protocols that led to the outbreak.
As of Nov. 17, the NFL said 95 players and roughly 175 other personnel have tested positive for Covid-19. The NFL has already rescheduled more than a dozen games due to positive cases and intensified its safety protocols. But despite the league's stricter rules, more postponements could be on the horizon.
The NFL is expecting to have its most recent testing results back this week, and the fear is an increase in positive cases due to the holiday could put Week 13 games at risk of being postponed too.
The NFL is at a critical point in its season as rescheduling windows are shortening with more games to complete before playoffs start in January. On a conference call with reporters on Nov. 10, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also reiterated the league's plans to host its 2021 Super Bowl on time.
The championship game is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay, and the NFL is planning to allow fans in the stadium at 20% capacity.
There have been discussions about moving to a bubble, but league officials raised mental health concerns when discussing the matter publicly.
"That's a significant stress point, and I think we have to acknowledge that is just as much of a health and safety consideration as this Covid-19 infection," said NFL chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills last month.
But with time running out, the NFL moving playoff-eligible teams to multiple bubble environments could be on the table, especially with more outbreaks. The move would emulate Major League Baseball, which relocated a portion of its postseason and its World Series to Texas following in-market games for its 2020 season.