The National Football League (NFL) postponed several Week 15 games after COVID-19 cases spiked among players, the league announced on Friday.
The NFL confirmed that the changes include three games, which were initially planned to be played over the weekend.
The game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cleveland Browns has been moved from Dec. 18 to Dec. 20; while the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Rams and the Washington Football Team at the Philadelphia Eagles were moved from Dec. 19 to Dec. 21.
Both Dec. 21 games will kick off at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised regionally by FOX and available on NFL Sunday Ticket. The game on Dec. 20 will air exclusively at 5 p.m. ET on NFL Network.
“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 announced in a statement.
“We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community.”
The decision for the Cleveland Browns’ delay to the game by two days comes in the wake of the team losing 22 players to the reserve/COVID-19 list, it announced in a statement.
“The Browns currently have 23 players on reserve/COVID-19 lists, including 19 who were on the active roster,” it said, adding that the group includes QBs Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum, RB Kareem Hunt, WR Jarvis Landry, G Wyatt Teller, Ss John Johnson III, Grant Delpit, and Ronnie Harrison Jr., and DT Malik McDowell.
Kevin Stefanski, the Browns’ head coach also tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, and he has been self-isolating since Dec. 15.
“We respect the NFL’s decision to postpone our matchup against the Raiders,” Browns Senior Vice President of Communications Peter John-Baptiste said. “As always, our top priority is the health and well-being of our community, coaches, players, and their families, whether that is related to COVID-19 or player safety factors.”
Previously, the NFL did not plan to move any games because of CCP virus outbreaks. It even said forfeits “could be in play.” But recent developments with the Omicron strain of COVID-19 have changed the league’s thinking—as did several outbreaks across the league entering Week 15 of the season.
The moves were not looked at kindly by some Las Vegas Raiders players.
“I pay my player dues just to get lied to and the rules bent!” Raiders linebacker K.J. Wright said on Twitter at the league and the players’ union. “If it was the other way around I swear we would be playing tomorrow.”
As of Dec. 17, the Rams had placed 29 of its players on the COVID-19/Reserve list. The Washington Football team has 23 players on the COVID-19/Reserve list.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.