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Conspiracy theory? Steelers upset league moving another of their games

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens were scheduled to clash on Thursday night.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens were scheduled to clash on Thursday night.

Most people would be thrilled to suddenly find out they were getting a national holiday off when they were originally scheduled to work.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were as bitter as a bad Butterball.

Judging by their reaction on social media, they believed it was some sort of conspiracy that their U.S. Thanksgiving night marquee matchup with Baltimore was postponed on Wednesday when the list of Ravens to hit the reserve/COVID-19 list grew to seven players, along with members of the team’s coaching staff and support staff.

The most recent Ravens to either test positive or be identified as a “close contact” were Matt Skura and Pat Makari, their first and second-team centres, as well as all-pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell.

According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Ravens have disciplined a strength and conditioning coach for not reporting symptoms and not consistently wearing a mask or tracking device, which may have contributed to the team’s rash of COVID-19 cases.
Pelissero adds that by proactively disciplining the coach, the Ravens could potentially reduce or avoid discipline they face from the league.

“The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts,” read the NFL’s statement.

Pending the results of more testing, the game will be played Sunday at 1:15 p.m. as part of NBC’s coverage.

Meanwhile, the traditional American Thanksgiving triple-header has turned into a double-dip, and as delicious as the main course featuring the undefeated Steelers and their hated rivals looked, the two appetizers are much less appealing.

The Houston Texans (3-7) visit the Detroit Lions (4-6) at 12:30 p.m., followed by a pillow fight for first place in the NFC East featuring Washington (3-7) at Dallas (3-7).

“What a joke,” tweeted Chase Claypool, the Steelers sensational rookie receiver, about the decision to postpone.

“I’m not gonna lie NFL, this is (B.S.),” tight end Eric Ebron tweeted.

And on and on it went.

Why were the Steelers so ticked?

For one, they were genuinely looking forward to flex their muscles against a reeling divisional foe in prime time.

It’s also the second time this season Pittsburgh’s schedule has had to be adjusted because of its opponent’s COVID situation.

Their bye week was moved to Week 4 (when they really didn’t need a breather after three games) because when the Tennessee Titans had an outbreak. The game was rescheduled for Week 7, which was originally the Steelers bye.

Also, according to one report, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin promised his players they could have six days off following Thursday’s night game.

Now, while they’ll have Thursday off, they’ll be back at practice Friday and then, after Sunday’s game, be back in their usual routine heading into Week 13’s game against Washington.

Of course, things could get messed up further if the Steelers-Ravens game can’t be played Sunday.

The league and the Ravens expect to know if the outbreak is contained on Friday.

“First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their COVID situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh (shaking my head),” receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster tweeted.

It is interesting that in the hours leading up to the Thursday that kicked off Week 9, the 49ers had to put four key players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, yet the league didn’t postpone that game.

At the same time, the NFL has to hate taking Pittsburgh-Baltimore off the slate on a night when families traditionally gather together in celebration of a holiday.

Are the Ravens to blame for being victimized by COVID-19? Who knows for sure. Maybe they weren’t following protocols as strictly as they should and maybe they took every precaution but picked up the virus through family members.

Either way, the whole thing could work out to the Steelers’ advantage. Tomlin will surely reinforce their “us against the world” mentality and now the NFL’s only 10-0 team should have a little more fuel in its tank for the stretch drive.


Veteran Mike Glennon will be the quarterback for the Jaguars in their game against the Browns on Sunday, making his first start since 2017 and prompting this observation from Mark Long of the Associated Press: “Here’s the craziest part: Mike Glennon got benched in 2017 for Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky, who got benched this year for Nick Foles, who got benched last year for Gardner Minshew, who got replaced by (Jake) Luton, who is now benched in favour of Glennon.” … Looks like Trubisky could be the Bears QB against the Packers on Sunday night, after he was a full participant and Foles (hip) didn’t practice Wednesday … Teddy Bridgewater has confirmed he’ll return to work as Carolina’s QB against his old team, the Vikings. Despite his return to practice Wednesday, the Panthers are expected to be without RB Christian McCaffrey, who has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury. … Brandon Allen, not Ryan Finley, is expected to replace Joe Burrow as Cincinnati’s starter against the Giants. Allen, a sixth-round pick in 2016, has spent the entire season on the practice squad.


Colts have put DT DeForest Buckner on the reserve/COVID-19 list … The Browns have put Sione Takitaki on the COVID list as well. He had a pick-six against Carson Wentz last week … The Texans will be without veteran WR Randall Cobb (toe) for the next three games after placing him on the IR. Cobb has 38 catches for 441 yards and three TDs in his first since with Houston … Texans receiver Kenny Stills (quadriceps) will also miss the game.


NFL Network posted a clip of the exchange between Baltimore coach John Harbaugh and Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel before Sunday’s game. Of the Titans players huddling on the Ravens’ crest, Harbaugh says “it’s disrespectful.” Says Vrabel: “Go coach.” Says Harbaugh: “It’s disrespectful.” Says Vrabel: “Go coach a game.” And despite claims to the contrary made by both men, there was no post-game handshake, even though the winning coach offered his congratulations. Maybe they forgot they were on camera?


Bears RB David Montgomery has come out of concussion protocol … The NFL has rescinded the two-game suspension on 49ers CB K’Waun Williams for violating the policy on performance-enhancing substances. According to NFL Media, there are issues with testing procedures and Williams was adamant he never violated the policy … Peyton Manning has another TV job. Along with hosting ESPN’s popular Peyton’s Places, the former quarterback great will be hosting the revival of College Bowl quiz, a head-to-head battle of scholarships featuring 12 schools in a 10 episode round-robin bracket … Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coordinator Markus Paul has died, the team announced. The 54-year-old was rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning after experiencing a medical emergency.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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