CLEVELAND — After a slew of new COVID-19 cases as well as an outcry from players, fans and everyone in between on social media, the National Football League is postponing the Cleveland Browns game against the Las Vegas Raiders scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
The matchup is now scheduled to be played on Monday at 5 p.m. inside FirstEnergy Stadium, according a source with knowledge of the situation.
Calls to move the game began at the start of a COVID-19 outbreak with the Browns that has since left more than 20 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, including quarterback Baker Mayfield, tight end Austin Hooper, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and offensive linemen Jedrick Wills and Wyatt Teller.
Defensively, the Browns also saw safeties John Johnson III, Grant Delpit and Ronnie Harrison all test positive for COVID-19, as well as cornerbacks Troy Hill and A.J. Green and linemen Takk McKinley and Malik McDowell.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski and acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell also tested positive for the virus, despite Stefanski disclosing the fact that he had received his booster shot.
With so many key players out, the league first rejected the notion of postponing the game leading up to Saturday, saying that there had been no discussions about moving the game.
Many, including Mayfield, called out the league for moving forward with the game.
Actually caring about player safety would mean delaying the game with this continuing at the rate it is….— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) December 16, 2021
But to say you won’t test vaccinated players if they don’t have symptoms, then to pull this randomly. Doesn’t make any sense to me.
Tell me if this makes sense…. No tests this morning… then let our team gather for practice… then show up after practice to test them. Something seems off here.— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) December 16, 2021
The NFL made it clear that postponing games would not be something they'd like to do. In the first season with 17 games on the schedule, the league said it did not anticipate adding another week to the schedule to play postponed games.
But postponements, while not a "right" for clubs, can happen this season, and the league made the call to do so Friday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this summer that while unlikely, postponements can occur if "required by government authorities, medical experts, or at the Commissioner's discretion."
With COVID-19 continuing to spread with just over 24 hours until kickoff was scheduled, the game became a medical liability, giving the league room to stand firm on its position not to postpone games for competitive reasons only.
"We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league," the NFL said in a statement.
The NFL also moved the Washington Football Team-Philadelphia Eagles game and the Seattle Seahawks-Los Angles Rams game due to COVID-19 outbreaks in Washington and L.A.
Here is the new Week 15 schedule with all of the changes:
|Saturday, December 18|
|New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts 8:15 PM NFLN|
|Sunday, December 19|
|Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 PM||CBS|
|New York Jets at Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos||4:05 PM||CBS|
|Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers||4:05 PM||CBS|
|Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens||4:25 PM||FOX|
|New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Monday, December 20|
|Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns||5:00 PM||NFLN|
|Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears||8:15 PM||ESPN|
|Tuesday, December 21|
|Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams 7:00 PM FOX|
|Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles 7:00 PM FOX|
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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