NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league will not consider if any teams are given an advantage for games, based on their opponents missing players due to COVID-19, when it makes changes to the 2020 schedule. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The NFL maintains that it will not reschedule games based on potential competitive advantages created by positive COVID-19 cases, which could force some teams to play without key players in their weekly matchups.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell commented on the status of the season Wednesday during a conference call. He also spoke about COVID-19's impact on the 2020 season prior to NBC's rare Wednesday's broadcast of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers game, which was postponed three times due to positive test results.
"Let me be crystal clear as we have been with our clubs since March: All medical decisions have and always will take precedence over competitive considerations and business interests," Goodell said on the conference call, according to NFL Network and The Athletic.
Goodell's comments came after the Denver Broncos took the field Sunday after the team placed four quarterbacks on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The New Orleans Saints went on to a 31-3 victory on Sunday in Denver, as the Broncos used wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback due to the shortage of experienced options.
"As we discussed in October at the fall league meeting, we will not postpone or reschedule games due to COVID issues affecting multiple players, even within a position group if we feel comfortable that the rest of the team is not at risk," Goodell said.
"This was exactly the case in Denver. Isolating high-risk contacts like we did in Denver is a key component of our protocols and our health-and-safety-first approach. The data shows it's working. In fact, more than 20 individuals have been identified over the season as high-risk close contacts that have turned positive."
Goodell also told NBC that the NFL thinks "it's safe to continue" the regular season and complete the playoffs.
"There are challenges," Goodell said. "We're seeing the virus spread and increase in our communities. That's a challenge for us. We believe the protocols we've established are working.
"We are going to continue to evaluate and see what improvements we can continue to make, as we did just last week. Obviously our objective is to finish 256 games safely."
Goodell also said Wednesday that the league will not implement a bubble strategy, similar to plans used by the NBA and MLB, because the NFL's "protocols are working." He said the league would consider additional isolations for players and personnel to reduce further risk and transmission of COVID-19.
The NFL on Wednesday released the latest round of test results from Nov. 15 to 28. A total of 156 people -- between players and personnel -- tested positive for COVID-19 during that period. Thirty-three players and 53 personnel members tested positive for COVID-19 from Nov. 22 through Monday.
The league announced in mid-November that 17 players and 35 personnel members tested positive from Nov. 8 to 14.
Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Monday, where the Seahawks defeated the Eagles
23-17. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo