What is Going on in the NFL?

Pio Romo, Staff Reporter

Here’s a question I’m sure football fans all over the world are scratching their brains about: “What the *expletive* is going on!?”

Of course, nothing is normal anymore due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has demanded extreme adaptations in exchange for a chance at survival. This is true for many businesses, and although many of them have failed, the NFL is one of the few to emerge with only a paper-cut. However, Rodger Goodell and the NFL are now hanging on for dear life, as the NFL commissioner has had to deal with a few viral-related issues during the course of the season, such as enforcing methods to minimize and prevent the spread, as well as handing out punishments to those who refuse to oblige. 

Minor positive tests don’t compare to the recent circus that has many football fans and players having something to say (and SPOILER ALERT: They’re not happy). 

We’ll cycle through the recent catastrophe in order of sequence. First, on Nov. 23, we receive word that two Baltimore Ravens players (Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins) test positive. From there, it gets worse, with the virus quickly reaching the star quarterback Lamar Jackson and other important players, the NFL had to postpone their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was supposed to take place Thanksgiving night. The outbreak seemingly continued to get worse, as the game pushed to Sunday was then pushed to Tuesday, and into Dec. 2. The decisions by the NFL to continually push the game back was met with a lot of backlash by Pittsburgh fans and players, as well as others of the NFL community. 

Understandably, Steeler Nation was enraged. The Steelers were stripped of their bye week earlier in the season when their opponents, the Tennessee Titans, were also involved in a similar outbreak. Players were upset of the NFL’s handling of the situations, as they were quick to accuse the NFL of pandering and cited flaws as well. One example was Eric Ebron writing on twitter, “49ers played… nvm.” The Steelers tight end refers to the fact that despite multiple COVID tests, the NFL forced the San Francisco 49ers to play their prime-time game against the Green Bay Packers, despite only having half their roster available, which many fans used to accuse the NFL of pandering to their “big-market” teams.  

Perhaps another situation that has fans and players livid was the NFL’s handling of the Denver Broncos situation that same week. On Thanksgiving day, Jeff Driskel, a quarterback for the Broncos, tested positive. The NFL stepped in and declared all Bronco quarterbacks ineligible to play Sunday, because they were deemed “high-risk contacts.” This decision was extremely controversial, as yet again many fans expressed their anger, but unfortunately for the Broncos, they did not have a quarterback available for Sunday. This forced the Broncos to quickly activate Kendall Hinton, a practice squad wide-receiver, to the active squad to take over the quarterback role. Despite having 3 years of quarterback experience in college, Hinton only had less than a day to prepare, leading to the predicted outcome of their game Sunday, a blowout loss. 

Lastly, amid all the craziness, the NFL world finds out that the San Francisco 49ers, due to COVID, are now homeless.  Santa Clara County issued new COVID-19 protocols, which effectively temporarily banned all professional sports in the area. This included teams like the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, the MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes, and of course the 49ers, who are located in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The 49ers will now play their home games in Phoenix, where they will share State Farm Stadium with their division-rival Arizona Cardinals for the remainder of the ban. 

A lot has gone down in the last week. But, the question still stands,  “What is going on?” It also raises a new question, “Can the NFL continue to stay alive this season?” Well, certainly the answer is up in the air, especially with recent events. However, if we are being realistic, the NFL has yet to cancel a game this season, even with this huge mess going on right now. Therefore, it would only be right to assume that the NFL will keep trudging through the mud, no matter the controversies or the feedback, because more importantly, that would not be good for business.