NFL playing schedule Sudoku

Will we ever see the Steelers and Ravens play a football game? Better question is should they?
Image: Getty Images

As the NFL continues its choose-your-own-adventure method of trying to finish this season when scheduled as scheduled, in order to win some sort of imaginary trophy only it can picture, it’s playing hopscotch with the schedule. Barely 24 hours before the Ravens were scheduled to take on the Steelers, a game that’s already been postponed twice, the league moved it back another day to Wednesday, perhaps the most inconvenient day in the week to schedule a game.

The kicker on this one is that the game will have to kick off in the afternoon because NBC didn’t want to miss out on the Rockefeller Plaza tree lighting ceremony. That’s gotta be some kick in the groin for a league that’s trying to show it’s steel and manliness to plow through a pandemic with kamikaze energy.

So thanks to the Wednesday game, both Baltimore and Pittsburgh have had their following games moved back. The Steelers will play on Monday against Washington, and Baltimore will play on Tuesday against Dallas. While it’s always life-affirming to laugh at the Cowboys or THE FOOTBALL TEAM, they didn’t have anything to do with this and are now dragged into it and will have to deal with a short week afterward. And seeing as how they’re both in the NFC East, where nothing and yet everything matters, that’s more than a footnote.

That doesn’t prevent the Ravens from having to play without the reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson, and as we saw yesterday there’s little teams can do without their starting QB, especially one as dynamic as Jackson.

The answer to this was simple, and yet the NFL didn’t want to take it because it would have been…well, I have no idea. A deviation from Plan A and there’s only Plan A when dealing with these owners. A blank week should have been inserted at the end of the season, a Week 18 for any games postponed. Or the NFL could have reduced the schedule to 14 or 15 games, to stay in the normal schedule window.

It chose none of this, and has this newest mess on its hands. One of its prime rivalries taking place on a weekday afternoon, stripped of its marquee star, a large portion of the roster testing positive, and having not practiced formally in over 10 days. But it’s a real season, because the NFL says so. It’s getting harder and harder to not see the man behind the curtain.

Oh, and the Niners are going to have to play “home” games in Arizona the next two weeks because Santa Clara is going into lockdown and seems to be the one place to come to the realization that putting on a football game is not really on the list of priorities. So the NFL will work around that.

All of this has the undercurrent that as the Ravens await these tests to come back in a day’s time, there are frontline and healthcare workers who are going without tests. The populace can’t get results for days for those who can get tested. This is becoming a third-world country in a hurry, if it wasn’t already.

Remember all this when Roger Goodell declares the season a total success during Super Bowl week because they didn’t have to postpone that one game.

A scary incident on Sunday during the Arsenal-Wolverhampton match in the Premier League got new context yesterday, as it was revealed that Wolves striker Raul Jimenez suffered a fractured skull in a collision of heads with Arsenal’s David Luiz. Jimenez underwent surgery and will remain in the hospital for a few more days.

Wolves striker Raul Jimenez and Arsenal’s David Luiz lay on the ground after brutal collision Sunday.

Wolves striker Raul Jimenez and Arsenal’s David Luiz lay on the ground after brutal collision Sunday.
Image: Getty Images

What’s truly galling is that Luiz was allowed to return to the field and finish out the first half, even with a huge gash on his head. In a collision that cracked the other guy’s skull, one would have to assume Luiz didn’t escape without his own head injury. Soccer’s treatment of concussions and head injuries is still somewhere just above barbaric, and this is another instance. Perhaps if the league had continued with the five-substitute rule that it used to end the season last season after the return from lockdown, Arsenal would have been more amenable to replacing Luiz instead of using one of three subs. Soccer has never shown much desire to institute some sort of temporary sub for proper evaluation of head injuries, which is the only other answer.

Clearly, there’s still a long way to go.

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