Kurtenbach: The NFL needs a bubble

The Deets is a weekday morning dose of commentary — delivered at 7 a.m. — from sports columnist Dieter Kurtenbach that wraps up everything important in the world of sports and looks forward to another crazy day ahead.

I know the NFL wants to expand its footprint. They play games on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in their quest for total television domination.

But Tuesday Night Football? That’s a bridge too far.

Unfortunately, the NFL on Tuesday is not the half-baked idea of some television executive — it’s the best route the NFL has to ensure the Tennessee Titans can play their Week 5 game amid a COVID-19 outbreak that’s now at 23 known cases.

The NFL had nothing but time to learn the lessons of other sports leagues as it pertained to playing amid a pandemic, but in typical NFL fashion, it did its own thing, believing it’s better.

No regular-season bubble, national or regional. No schedule cushion. It’s mostly really business as usual for the NFL.

They need to change that ahead of the playoffs. The league needs a postseason bubble.

Now, to the NFL’s credit, the league’s COVID protocols do work. When they’re followed, that is.

But as baseball learned with the Miami Marlins, there’s always going to be a team that doesn’t follow protocols.

The Titans were reportedly lax about wearing masks in the team facility and who had players practicing off-site, again not wearing masks, while their facility was shut down. It’s fair to say that they spit on the protocols, which, of course, is the worst thing you can do at a time like this. Did they not read the literature?

Major League Baseball made it work for the Marlins, but just barely — Miami played 28 “games” (some were seven innings) in the final 24 days of the season to play the “full” 60-game season. It was taxing, and that toll was paid by their opponents as well.

But instead of adding another bye week — or two — in the season to help with situations like this, instead of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, the NFL is now scrambling to move around the Titans schedule. Their Week 4 game is now in Week 8 — which was once their bye. Their opponent, the Steelers, had to make some changes to make that work. This week’s game will take place mid-week next week. The NFL had to eliminate a great Thursday Night Football game to make that happen.

The NFL is also having to move the Patriots’ game back a day after Stephon Gilmore was added to the COVID list a week after Cam Newton was placed on it.

The league’s plan to pretend that nothing could go wrong is proving so foolhardy that the league is reportedly considering making playoff eligibility a byproduct of winning percentage, not the number of wins. Yes, they’re considering straight-up canceling games. Why forfeits are not on the table is beyond me.

It’s all been so haphazard and predictable and it’s not going to get much better, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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