Roger Goodell’s stance on NFL Playoffs, COVID-19 bubble proves he’s out of touch

Jan 29, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during a press conference before Super Bowl LIV at Hilton Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday marked the first time in eons that the NFL has played a midweek game. Obviously, it has to do with the Baltimore Ravens’ COVID-19 outbreak. There’s now been a lot of questions about how this might impact the NFL Playoffs. Commissioner Roger Goodell touched on that ahead of the Ravens’ Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was previously noted that the league was considering going to a bubble-like atmosphere for the NFL Playoffs. If we pay close attention to Goodell’s words, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

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Roger Goodell shoots down idea of NFL Playoffs in a bubble

“We don’t see the bubble as most refer to it in one location,’ Goodell told the media. “We feel strongly our protocols are working. We’re willing to adjust and adapt those protocols, take additional steps. But I don’t see us doing the bubble in the sense that the media focuses on it.”

Talk about being out of touch with reality. Through the first 12 weeks of the season, only the Seattle Seahawks have not had a player be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We’ve seen multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 throughout the NFL season, most recently the Ravens.

In fact, Baltimore had to call 10 guys up from the practice squad ahead of Wednesday’s game just to field a team. All 10 players were replacing those on the COVID list, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

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Back in Week 9, the San Francisco 49ers had to play a “Thursday Night Football” game against the Green Bay Packers without multiple star players who were placed on the COVID list. It turned out that wide receiver Kendrick Bourne’s test was a false positive.

Despite this, the NFL opted to play the game on Thursday rather than moving it to Sunday or Monday. San Francisco lost by the score of 34-17 in a game that could end up having wide-ranging NFL Playoffs implications.

As noted above, Wednesday’s game between the Ravens and Steelers is being played with Baltimore short-handed in a big way. The defending AFC North champions sit at 6-4 on the season and are in must-win territory against the undefeated Steelers.

A few days prior, the Denver Broncos were forced to take on the New Orleans Saints without a quarterback. You read that right. Denver actually started a practice squad wide receiver under center. The end result was humiliating for both the Broncos and the NFL.

Said game could have been pushed back to Tuesday or Wednesday, enabling Denver’s four quarterbacks to pass through the NFL’s COVID protocols. It wasn’t. The reasoning? Goodell and Co. viewed the outbreak as contained. Shocking stuff.

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Roger Goodell completely out of touch with reality

Roger Goodell, NFL Playoffs and COVID-19
Sep 13, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wears a face mask during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cowoboys 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s a remarkable achievement to reach this point and we are proud of our players and all personnel for their tireless work and commitment,” Goodell said. “Like our teams, we are focused on finishing strong.”

Goodell is apparently ignoring the fact that his NFL has fined the likes of the Patriots, Raiders, Titans and Saints over violations of the COVID-19 protocols. He’s also ignoring the fact that the only reason games have yet to be canceled is that the NFL is putting other teams in less-than-ideal situations. See the above-mentioned references to the Ravens, Broncos and 49ers.

The backdrop here is a worsening pandemic around the United States. The last 24-hour period (as of publication of this article) saw north of 184,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the country. There’s been north of 100,000 cases each day for pretty much the past month.

To somehow think that the NFL is going to be immune from this is about as ignorant as it gets. Goodell also refuses to acknowledge that there are fixes to a problem other leagues have solved during this growing pandemic.

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The NBA resumed its 2019-20 season at the Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando in late July. There were absolutely no hiccups as it relates to a spread of the virus. The NHL did the same thing in Canada with similar results.

Meanwhile, MLB opted to play its regular season in home venues around the country before moving to bubbles for the playoffs. After some major issues during the regular year, the postseason went off without a hitch.

Goodell might very well want to talk up his league’s actions as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s also giving credit to the players and teams.

With that said, there’s been a leadership vacuum from the very top. The hope here is that it does not impact the remainder of the regular season and the NFL Playoffs.