NFL doctor on Steelers-Ravens postponement: Decisions should be 'ruled' by science, not scheduling
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The NFL’s chief medical officer responded Thursday to criticism over the league pushing the Thanksgiving night game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens to Sunday.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was among the critics for the league’s decision on Wednesday.
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He tweeted: “First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their COVID situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.”
Dr. Allen Sills talked about the decision on NBC's “TODAY.”
“I think we'd all like to get back to a sense of normalcy and a schedule we can count on. That is not just true in the NFL but in daily lives, with schools and businesses. What we said throughout the season is we have to remain flexible and adaptable because safety is our top priority,” he said.
“Our No. 1 priority is to make sure we put two teams on the field who are infection free, and that we can keep everyone safe, players, coaches, and staff on both sides. And so, we have to make the decisions that lead us to that place and be ruled by the science and not be ruled by the schedule. And that's what we've tried to do consistently throughout this entire season.”
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It’s the second time this season that the Steelers’ game has been moved because of an opponent’s coronavirus outbreak. The Tennessee Titans were the culprit earlier in the year.
Regardless, the Steelers have won their first 10 games of the season.
The Ravens reportedly had more positive tests on Thursday, further throwing the possibility of Sunday’s game being played into flux.
Sills said he was still confident the game would go on.
“We have to look at the results every day and make the best decision for that day. But in this particular situation, we feel we have a good understanding where transmission occurred. We also feel like we have a good understanding of where that window of transmission may close,” he added.
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“We certainly don't want to put anyone on the field for either team if we think they're in the window of vulnerability. At present, with the information in hand, we feel fairly confident that we understand the end of this transmission chain and will be able to get the game played safely on Sunday. We did not have that confidence that we could do that today, and that's why we made the decision to postpone the game.”
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