As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I’m pretty pissed off at the moment. The reason is very simple. Due to the NFLs incompetence and lack of planning, the team with the fourth most difficult schedule before the season began is stuck with a Week 2 BYE.
The scenario was clear on Monday. A massive hurricane was bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico and showed no sign in wavering off course. It was headed straight for the Texas gulf coast. A handful of teams play in proximity to the gulf coast, all of who might have been affected at that time. New Orleans was scheduled to be in Washington, so no concerns were merited there. Tampa Bay was at home against Atlanta, but there was no expected threat to western Florida. Dallas was playing host to the Philadelphia Eagles way inland. And of course, the Ravens were traveling to Houston for a week 2 showdown at Reliant Stadium.
As we know now, only one game was directly affected by Hurricane Ike making landfall around Galveston, TX early Saturday morning. By all accounts, Reliant Stadium may not be able to be played in until the second half of the season. Chunks of the roof have been torn off and excessive water damage, according to officials, is at ground level.
Surprised as they were, the NFL has juggled the schedule to allow the game to be played during Week 10, bumping the scheduled Bengals-Texans game to Week 8 when those teams had scheduled BYEs and leaving the Ravens and the Texans with a Week 2 BYE.
That’s right, a week 2 BYE. For the team with the fourth most difficult schedule. The original Week 10 BYE was scheduled after a long run where the Ravens would face all division rivals once, including the hated Steelers, plus matchups against Indianapolis and Tennessee. Now, with the exception of the week 1 win against the Bengals, all of those games will fall after the one and only break the team gets all year. There is no “recharge for the second half”.
Let me be clear, disasters happen and what has happened in Texas along the Gulf Coast is, indeed, tragic. However, with the Saints in Washington, this game could have been scheduled for the Superdome and still have drawn a home crowd. LSU has a night game tonight, but in a pinch, an NFL game could have been played on Monday or Tuesday. The Alamodome in San Antonio is two hundred miles inland, and was largely unaffected by Ike. It seats 65,000 people.
Or, hey, at least have a Plan B. Maybe actually get your inspections in so that the Astrodome could have been utilized in case of damage to Reliant Stadium.
Or maybe the Baltimore Ravens themselves could have opened up their home of M&T Bank Stadium to play as “the visiting team” and allow Texans fans right of first ticket, honoring the tickets already purchased for the game in Houston.
Any number of things could have been done to avoid the doomsday scenario that is happening right now. But the NFL did not plan and did not look ahead. They waited to make a game-time decision, pardon the pun, affected teams practicing and mental preparation and quite possibly have caused serious injuries that might not have come later in the season if players had an adequate opportunity for a rest and healing cycle which was the impetus for the BYE week in the first place.
Shame on the NFL. If you have fantasy teams, makes sure you peek at your rosters this week and are not starting Ravens or Texans in week 2 and that you have enough time, if the waiver period has not already passed, to complement your roster if necessary.