Omicron Outbreak Postpones 3 NFL Games for Week 15

Omicron Outbreak Postpones 3 NFL Games for Week 15 the american flag with a football wearing a face mask (Dreamstime)

By Charles Kim | Saturday, 18 December 2021 06:39 PM

With the recent spike in the COVID-19 omicron variant the National Football League on Friday postponed three of its week 15 games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell contacted all 32 teams Friday announcing that three games would be postponed from their originally scheduled dates, CNET reported.

"The emergence of the omicron variant is precisely the kind of change that warrants a flexible response," Goodell told the teams Friday, according to the report. "Based on medical advice, we have instituted additional protocols as well as revised testing protocols for reinstating players and staff who have tested positive. We have also considered whether certain games should be rescheduled in light of current conditions."

The three rescheduled games include the Las Vegas Raiders-Cleveland Browns game scheduled for today, which will be played Monday. Sunday's scheduled Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams game and Washington Football Team-Philadelphia Eagles game will both be played Tuesday.

In a statement Friday, the league said the decision to postpone the games was made in consultation with the NFL Players Association, the sport's union, and "medical advice."

"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 statement said. "We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community."

The league said it still hopes to play the full schedule of games "within the current 18 weeks."

According to the league, the postponed games were selected due to the number of teams and players grappling with positive COVID cases.

Cleveland has experienced a "significant" number of cases, with more than 20 players currently on the reserve/COVID list, including QB Baker Mayfield and backup QB Case Keenum, while the Rams put nine team members on the list Thursday, according to the league.

Meanwhile, both starting and backup QBs Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen are also both on the list as of Friday.

In addition to rescheduling games, the league is adopting stricter COVID protocols to address the increase in cases.

"Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel," the league wrote in a statement Thursday.

"We will continue to strongly encourage the booster shots as the most effective protection. Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19. All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community."