The Ravens players themselves may have been the driving force that got their game in Pittsburgh moved back to Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
Pro Football Talk reported Monday that the Ravens threatened a “wildcat strike” if their Tuesday game wasn’t moved. The NFL already pushed Baltimore’s game at the Steelers back from Thanksgiving night to Sunday afternoon, then from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday night, because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the Ravens. But with Baltimore still not back in its facility until Monday night, multiple reports indicated that the Ravens didn’t want to play Tuesday.
The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer wrote, “I’ve heard that there’s a group of Ravens unhappy about having to play Tuesday, given how everything’s been handled. One source told me the NFL had offered Wednesday as a compromise, but that some players wanted Thursday. No consensus was reached.”
As of Tuesday morning, Dec. 1, the NFL has moved Baltimore-Pittsburgh back to Wednesday afternoon at 3:40 p.m. ET.
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The implications of a strike would have been major both financially and legally. According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL would argue that the players violated both the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the agreement made to proceed with this unusual 2020 season, with a potential counterclaim from the players being that it’s a safety risk to play with such little preparation.
Depending on the NFL’s true financial outlook for the rest of the season, Pro Football Talk wrote, the league could then choose to rip up the agreement to play out the rest of the season, putting the conclusion of the campaign at risk.
“If the league is swimming in red ink, this could be an easy way to stop the bleeding,” wrote PFT’s Mike Florio.
The Ravens had been away from their facility since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving after the outbreak began Monday, Nov. 23, with positive COVID-19 tests for running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins. Other key pieces have tested positive since, including 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. Baltimore went to its facility Monday morning for a walk-through, only to be sent home by the league less than 48 hours before they were scheduled to play the undefeated Steelers on Tuesday night.
Since then, the Ravens reportedly threatened to strike and the final matchup of Week 12 was moved to Wednesday. At this rate, though, there’s still plenty of time for more to change.