The North American sports team that has had the largest outbreak of COVID-19 positive cases is the Baltimore Ravens.
More than thirty players and staff members have had confirmed positive test results in the past few weeks, which has caused a few different schedule changes for this NFL team. The question has more to do with whether or not this outbreak is now contained or if it will continue.
Speculation Regarding the Start of the Outbreak
The name Steve Saunders isn’t likely a household name and he might not even be the main reason there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Baltimore Ravens organization. Saunders is the head strength and conditioning coach for the team and he is the staff member that was punished by the team for conducting team activities without his proximity tracker, which was required by the NFL.
How Did COVID-19 Spread on the Baltimore Ravens
While it’s not known exactly how the spread took place, and Saunders isn’t necessarily to blame, the root of the outbreak could have been in the multiple in-person activities that were conducted by the team. Some of these activities took place on the same day that a pair of players tested positive which was the initial start of this outbreak of COVID-19.
Several Days of Testing at the Facility
The first pair of players to test positive did so on Monday, November 23, and the team didn’t return to the facility the following day. They attempted to go back on Monday, November 30, but more positive tests caused the NFL to step in and require further testing and contact tracing. During this time, the scheduled Thanksgiving game against the Pittsburgh Steelers had been moved to Sunday, November 29, but was then moved to Tuesday, December 1.
Several Players on the COVID-19/Reserve List
At one point during this outbreak, the Baltimore Ravens had 20 players on the COVID-19/Reserve List. This list is made up of the players who tested positive and those that are considered “high-rise close contact” with those that have tested positive. The game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was finally scheduled for and played on Wednesday, December 2. The Ravens still has 12 players on the COVID-19 list including all active running backs and starting quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The Wednesday Game Continues to Change the Schedule
After the Wednesday game that was supposed to be played on Thanksgiving, the Ravens/Cowboys game that was originally scheduled for Sunday, December 6, was moved to Tuesday, December 8 to allow the Baltimore Ravens to move farther away from the outbreak. This was yet another change in the schedule for this team as they continue to face a serious challenge.
Results of The Steelers/Ravens Game
Without the starting quarterback, active running backs, and a few other key players, the Baltimore Ravens put up a pretty good fight against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although the Steeler came away with a 19-14 victory, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not pleased. He went so far as to call the effort “junior varsity” because of how poorly his team played against a decimated Ravens team.
Results of the Ravens/Cowboys Game
With only five days between games, the Baltimore Ravens came out and beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-17. Of course, the Cowboys have had a rough time all season and after this game,they are sitting on a 3-9 record. It certainly helped to get some of the COVID-19/Reserve List playersback including starting quarterback Lamar Jackson. After this game, the Ravens are enjoying a 7-5 record, but are still looking up at the Cleveland Browns at 9-3 and the Pittsburgh Steelers at 11-1 in their own division.
An Odd Occurrence on the Field in Baltimore
The Tuesday game between the Ravens and Cowboys began with a bit of controversy. Former Dallas wide receiver, Dez Bryant, who was called up from the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens, was looking forward to playing his former team. Unfortunately, Bryant had an inconclusive COVID-19 test the day before and then was informed the test he took on gameday came back positive for the virus, which caused the NFL to ask him to leave the field and go home.
Will the Schedule Remain Normal for the Ravens?
The big question is what the schedule will look like going forward for the Ravens? As we have seen so far this year, the NFL plans to move forward and play games regardless of the virus. Hopefully, the outbreak is over and the Ravens will be able to play the remainder of their games on the dates originally scheduled.