Baker Mayfield rips NFL amid Browns' COVID outbreak, calls for delaying Saturday's game

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Cleveland Browns star quartergback Baker Mayfield ripped the NFL’s COVID health and safety protocols Thursday as his team deals with an outbreak.

The Browns are scheduled to host the Las Vegas Raiders Saturday. The status of the game seems uncertain since a number of players tested positive for COVID, including Mayfield, backup quarterback Case Keenum and coach Kevin Stefanski. 

Half of the Browns starters were on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. And both teams are in a playoff hunt.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield walks off the field after his team defeated the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland. Mayfield and coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and will likely miss Saturday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
(AP Photo/David Richard, File)

“@NFL Make up your damn mind on protocols. Showing up and making only 3 teams test?!? All so you can keep the game as scheduled to make money,” Mayfield wrote.

“Actually caring about player safety would mean delaying the game with this continuing at the rate it is … 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.”

Before Mayfield’s rant, the NFL announced changes to its coronavirus policy.

“Throughout the pandemic we have continuously evolved our protocols to meet our goal of advancing the safety of the players, coaches and staff. The changes we are making today aim to address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant,” the league said. 

“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. We will continue to strongly encourage booster shots as the most effective protection. 

Case Keenum was also in the protocols Thursday.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

“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.”

Mayfield is the teammate of J.C. Tretter, the president of the NFLPA. Tretter made a plea for more daily testing amid the surge. Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday that testing wasn’t the best way to address the league’s larger concern of spreading the virus.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also said there were no plans to cancel or postpone the Browns-Raiders game.

“Listen, we’ve raised this the last two years. It’s a challenge,” Goodell said. “I think the things that made us successful was keeping safety first. Second, being willing to adapt at all times. It’s clear even in the last couple of weeks that the changes are pretty significant and different than they were before, and I think it calls to modifications to our protocols in general, and we’re working with the players association on that.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell looks on before the Las Vegas Raiders play against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium Oct. 4, 2021 in Inglewood, Calif. 
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Pro Football Talk reported Thursday the NFLPA was “aggressively” pushing for a postponement of the game on Saturday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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