Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh greets full-back L. . J. . Fort (58) during the first half of an NFL soccer game, Wednesday, December. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo / Don Wright) AP
Several Baltimore Ravens players described Wednesday that they felt frustrated or confused at times by running the NFL as the coronavirus spread through the squad for the past week and a half. Others said they are confident the league and team are making player safety a priority.
And coach John Harbaugh said after his team suffered a 19-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday that he was especially proud of his players for how they dealt with one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in the sports world.
As of early last week, more than 30 Ravens players or staff have had to isolate themselves due to positive tests or high-risk contacts, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson. No member of the organization had spoken publicly in nine days before Harbaugh and five of his players held virtual post-game press conferences on Wednesday that offered different perspectives on the outbreak.
Harbaugh declined to provide details on the team’s attempts to determine why and how the virus spread so quickly.
« I just feel like the league did their best, » said Harbaugh. « We did our best. We haven’t struck a thousand. Nobody did it. The league didn’t. nobody did it. You can’t beat a thousand against this thing. But I think our response in terms of our efforts was a perfect effort. ”
Offensive guards Bradley Bozeman and Harbaugh said that some players who contracted the virus are experiencing symptoms, but in Bozeman’s words he believed none of his teammates were “super sick or anything like that. ”
Many NFL players have returned to the field within two weeks of testing positive for the coronavirus, while others have experienced more severe symptoms. Jaguars running back Ryquell Armstead were reportedly hospitalized twice for complications from the virus, and Bill’s tight end Tommy Sweeney developed heart disease myocarditis after testing positive for COVID-19.
Raven quarterback Robert Griffin III, who started in place of Jackson on Wednesday after the NFL postponed the game three times, said players were increasingly concerned for their health and family members as the coronavirus entered the team facility.
« They just tell you, ‘Be a soccer player, » Griffin said. « But at the end of the day we have families, we have people we love, and we don’t want to make them sick. Many of our players who tested positive, their family members also tested positive. These things are not reported. When people think, “Oh. Maybe guys, they just don’t wanna play. You just don’t want that. « It’s not that – we love football. « . We want to play football, but we also want to make sure our families are safe. ”
The ravens have learned that J runs back. K. . Dobbins and Mark Ingram tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, November. 22, the day the team suffered an overtime loss against the Titans. Baltimore closed the team facility the next morning while the NFL was under contract pursuit and only one player was at high risk of infection.
That Monday afternoon, the ravens reopened their headquarters for meetings and a complete solution. Until this Tuesday at 11:15 a.m.. m. More positive tests started. Baltimore resumed personal operations and sent the players home.
« On Monday and Tuesday we ask ourselves, » Why were we allowed to go back into the building when we said everything is based on contact tracing and things like that, and we’ve been told so? « said Clark. « We have to look at some of these things. ”
External linebacker Tyus Bowser added, “It was definitely difficult to figure out what was going on and how we could do it. ”
Starting with Ingram and Dobbins, at least one Ravens player learned of a positive coronavirus test for 10 days. The NFL moved the Ravens Steelers game from Thanksgiving to Sunday, then Tuesday, and finally Wednesday at 3pm. 40 o’clock. m.
Raven’s Defensive End Derek Wolfe and others used social media to question whether the NFL made safety a top priority when considering delays. Griffin declined to say whether the outbreak affected his view of how the league dealt with the pandemic.
« What I’m going to say, because I think it needs to be said, is that there are things that go on behind closed doors that [player] are not privy to, » Griffin said.
The ravens kept their facility closed from November. 24 until they held socially distant walk-throughs and conditioning sessions Monday and Tuesday. There were still a few positive tests in the final days leading up to the game, but no Baltimore player reported positive results in the point-of-care test on Wednesday morning, prompting the NFL to give the go-ahead for the matchup.
Griffin said the socially distant passages, which aim to allow players to physically prepare for the game while limiting the risk of virus transmission, are unlike anything he has seen in his career.
Several reports suggested that the NFL postponed the game to Wednesday after Ravens players raised concerns about the safety of gaming on Tuesday as the virus spreads and the team has no practice time.
Broad receiver Marquise Brown, who received a 70-yard touchdown pass on Wednesday, said he would have taken the field at any point but could understand the hesitation.
« I felt ready to play anytime, » said Brown. « Once you have an outbreak and you don’t know if the next one has it, it can create some uncertainty. But for the most part, I trust the organization. ”
Brown, a close friend of Jackson, said the Ravens quarterback was in « good spirits » six days after hearing his positive coronavirus test.
Many outsiders thought the Ravens Steelers game shouldn’t go on at all this week, but the teams and the NFL trudged forward. By playing on Wednesday, the league avoided postponing the start of the playoffs immediately to an 18th. Regular Season Week to open.
The challenge of getting to the end of the season as coronavirus cases surge across the country remains daunting. In the coming weeks, the league will aim to ensure outbreaks like Baltimore don’t happen elsewhere – and assess the ravens’ coronavirus response to see if punishment is warranted.
Last week, the ravens announced they had evicted an employee related to COVID cases. The athlete first reported that the team had suspended strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders for failing to report symptoms of the coronavirus and for not following guidelines on wearing mask and contact trackers.
« There is no time to take the accusatory stance. That’s not the position I’d be taking, ”Harbaugh said on Wednesday. « I would take the position that our boys fought like crazy and I’m proud of what they did. I’m sure we will make a statement on [how the team is handling the coronavirus] with the details and things like that. ”
Whatever the next few weeks, Griffin hopes those outside the organization consider the well-being of those within the organization.
« We just want to make sure everyone is safe, » he said. « In the end, that doesn’t mean you’re not human just because you’re a soccer player. ”
Aaron Kasinitz covers the Baltimore Ravens for PennLive and can be reached at akasinitz @ pennlive. com or on Twitter @AaronKazreports. Follow PennLive’s Ravens coverage on Facebook and YouTube.
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Robert Griffin III, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Soccer Team, Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL, American Football, Cleveland Browns, Lamar Jackson
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