It is likely we will never fully know the behind-the-scenes activity that led to the Week 15 postponement of the Cleveland Browns Vs. Las Vegas Raiders game.
For days as the Browns continued to report multiple breakthrough COVID-19 positive test results of players, the NFL was adamant that the game would not be postponed.
By Friday, most assumed that was the end of the story.
The NFL had ample time to make a decision, but now the Raiders would be preparing to travel so this game was on.
Then, word came that the Raiders were told to not board busses to head to the airport because a postponement was likely.
The rest is history; the NFL announced the date and time change.
And the Raiders were mad.
Why The Change Of Heart By The NFL
Likely, the NFL’s change of heart had nothing to do with its 2020 precedent of moving a Baltimore Ravens game multiple times when 20 players were COVID-19 positive.
It had more to do with the grim reality that the Browns were on the verge of forfeiting the game because they simply did not have players to put on the field for it on Saturday.
A forfeit would mean no primetime television coverage which would hurt the NFL.
— El Travs (@el_travs) December 16, 2021
The other consequence of a forfeit is the players do not get paid.
Raiders fans would argue the win would be more important than the paycheck, but the financial consequences for the NFL and the players are something no one can speak to unless it impacts them personally.
Charles Robinson, senior Yahoo reporter, was one who shed light on this issue on Friday.
Sources from talks between NFL, #Browns, #Rams, Washington & union say all 3 teams were on the verge of forfeits this week. All would then have forfeited game checks. #Raiders, #Seahawks and #Eagles also wouldn’t have been paid, per guidelines sent to teams this summer.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) December 17, 2021
It is also important to note that the Browns outbreak was among vaccinated players so the NFL rules for forfeiture did not apply.
Those rules applied when an unvaccinated outbreak occurs.
— Lake (@TheGreatLago) December 16, 2021
Issue Is Bigger Than Browns Vs. Raiders Game
The NFL may have been able to stomach the forfeit of one game.
However, there were two other games, and six teams in total, impacted by the flurry of COVID-19 positive results.
If the Rams, Washington Football Team, and the Browns forfeited, there would have been far reaching and deeper consequences.
The fact there was more than one team decimated by COVID-19 likely forced the decision to postpone games.
In this case, I suppose misery loves company.