Go ahead, curse the Eagles’ fate and the unfairness of it all that the Washington Football Team gets a reprieve for a COVID-19 outbreak that was entirely of their own doing.
So now the Eagles are in a situation where they have to play Tuesday night, then another game only five days later against the Giants.
But that’s not why the situation stinks.
After all, Washington has it even worse. The Eagles are tied with Washington for the final playoff spot in the NFC at 6-7 heading into their short week.
The Football Team also has to play again five days later – on the road in Dallas against a Cowboys team that’s running away with the NFC East.
That’s two road games in five days for Washington, and two home games in five days for the Eagles.
And there’s no guarantee that many of the 23 players on Washington’s COVID-19 list as of Friday will be able to come off before the game on Tuesday, let alone next Sunday.
In other words, Washington’s game-day roster could still resemble that of a meaningless final preseason game.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are getting an extra two days for Jalen Hurts’ ankle to continue healing, along with Miles Sanders’ ankle and Jordan Howard’s knee.
Remember, Hurts was going to be listed as questionable for Sunday despite going through a full practice Friday.
And also remember, Washington starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke went on the COVID-19 list Friday, meaning that it’s more than likely that he won’t be able to play Tuesday anyway. Heinicke’s backup, Kyle Allen, is also on the COVID-19 list.
So really, the Eagles should squash Washington even by playing two days later.
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That might not satisfy those who believe that Washington should have to forfeit the game entirely. After all, you can point to defensive end Montez Sweat, who’s believed to be unvaccinated, as the first Washington player to go on the COVID-19 list, on Dec. 8.
In another bit of cruel irony, it’s being reported that Sweat will come off the list before Tuesday’s game. But Sweat would be eligible to return Saturday anyway after missing the mandatory 10 days as an unvaccinated player.
So it’s possible that he would’ve played even if the game was played Sunday.
But he hasn’t played since Oct. 31 because of an injury. And he hasn’t practiced or been around the team since he went on the COVID list, so he won’t exactly be in game shape.
And it might not satisfy those who believe that Washington should have to play Sunday with the players that it has available.
For those keeping track, those players would be either third-string quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who has never played in an NFL game, or Garrett Gilbert, just signed Friday off New England’s practice squad.
And that would include practice squad players all along the defensive line because seven are on the COVID-19 list.
And it could include a safety playing at cornerback in place of Kendall Fuller, who, like Sweat, is believed to be unvaccinated.
Sure, one can say that’s justifiable. The Eagles, to their credit, didn’t have a virus spread after two players tested positive in wide receiver Quez Watkins and practice-squad player Jason Huntley.
Of course, it didn’t spread because the Eagles were off last week, and the players were tested before being allowed to enter the practice facility. Washington, meanwhile, had a full week of practices, meetings and so forth for the virus to spread.
And one could argue that Denver had to play a game last season with a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback because all four of the Broncos’ quarterbacks were on the COVID-19 list.
But Denver didn’t get a break because the NFL found that the quarterbacks had tried to cheat the system, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The QBs took off their tracking devices and placed them in separate corners of the meeting room, then sat next to each other to watch film.
The NFL likely determined that no one on the Football Team violated protocols. It’s the same with the other teams that were granted two-day reprieves – the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Rams.
Sure, you can say it’s Sweat’s fault that led to the outbreak.
But the NFL doesn’t have a vaccine mandate. So as long as Sweat is following protocols, such as wearing masks, testing daily, not going out when the team is on the road, and so forth, the NFL can’t punish him for getting COVID-19.
Sure, you can say Sweat is selfish for increasing his likelihood for getting COVID-19 by not being vaccinated. But the NFL can’t punish stupid. If it could, well, where to begin?
So the only way the NFL can force a team to forfeit is if the game can’t be made up within the 18-week schedule.
The NFL has already said it won’t prolong the regular season to make up postponed games. And now that every team has had its bye, there’s little room left to maneuver.
As Eagles coach Nick Sirianni put it: “They tell us where to play and when to play, and we’ll play there.”
Technically, a forfeit can still happen if Washington adds even more players to the COVID-19 list without a significant number coming off.
But nobody wants that because then the players on both teams won’t get paid, and the two teams would lose the revenue from a game.
You can pretty much take it to the proverbial bank that the owners aren’t going to miss out on game-day revenue, just like the players aren’t going to miss out on a paycheck.
So, yes, it’s about money. The way the NFL sees it, a bonus night of football televised in prime time is good for business.
And that is what stinks about the whole situation.
Contact Martin Frank at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Eagles not the real loser in NFL’s decision to postpone game vs. WFT