PHILADELPHIA -- On Thursday, the question was whether Eagles quarterback Michael Vick would play football Sunday in Tampa. On Friday, after news of a MRSA outbreak, the question became whether anyone will.
For now, it appears the game is on. Unless the NFL instructs them otherwise, the Eagles will board their scheduled charter flight Saturday for Tampa and expect to play the Buccaneers.
A third Bucs player was diagnosed with the antibiotic-resistant staph infection, and guard Carl Nicks also suffered a recurrence this week. The Bucs had an outbreak of MRSA infections during training camp. Nicks’ infection is a recurrence in his foot.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association said they are investigating the situation. The union said it would seek assurance the infection has been contained.
It’s a complicated situation. Assurances that the spread of the infection is unlikely ring hollow considering this is the second outbreak, and that it has in fact spread. The NFL has focused on player safety when it comes to concussions and hitting defenseless players, but the league would not look good if an opposing player developed an infection after playing in Tampa.
A postponement is unlikely, but it wouldn’t be the first time an Eagles game in Tampa was rescheduled. The Eagles were supposed to play the Buccaneers on Sept. 16, 2001. All NFL games that weekend were postponed until January after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
It would be trickier to make up a single game. The Eagles had a postponement in 2010 due to a blizzard. That game against the Minnesota Vikings was moved from Sunday to Tuesday, but that kind of timeframe doesn’t apply here. If the game couldn’t be played safely within a day or two, there aren’t many breaks in the schedule to fit it in. The Bucs had their bye last week, while the Eagles’ is scheduled for the last weekend in November.