The Tennessee Titans ’COVID-19 explosion is not the end of the NFL’s 2020 season. This is the beginning of its most important part.
This week’s developments have only surprised those who have settled into the familiar rhythms of football season and have forgotten the potentially impossible situations in which this one has been played. The NFL knew it was coming – a week in which coronavirus infected one of its teams at this point should consider postponing a game. It knows it will happen again. The NFL does not manage if and in what order its games are currently held. The virus is. So the league will fix the best it can, even if the solutions are not perfect or generally satisfactory.
But equity concerns are not as troubling as they are, so why this week should be a wake-up call ̵1; a reminder to those who may have forgotten what is happening in the wider world with no way to protect the ever -insular NFL from here. As well as going to training camp and the first few weeks of the season, it has no time to rest, and that time is not coming.
“Our job is simply not done. It is to remain vigilant,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in an interview Thursday with CNN. “But I’m happy with what was done, I’m happy with the protocols that were stuck, and we’ll find out exactly what happened.”
More important than the rescheduling of Week 4 game between the Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers is the NFL and the NFLPA will remain at the top of the Tennessee outbreak. The league issued a memo on Thursday reminding teams “There is one simple rule to keep in mind: act as if every person you contact has a COVID infection and take appropriate measures. protocols. ” The memo advocates new rules for teams, such as the Titans, with outbreaks, or the Minnesota Vikings, in contact with teams with outbreaks. This includes increasing test requirements, training masks and gloves and virtual-only meetings among other things.
They continue to test the Titans players and staff daily, isolating those who tested positive – five players and six staff members tested positive this week – and keeping track of their close contacts to try to track and prevent further spread . They continued to test the Vikings players and staff, who played for the Titans on Sunday. So far nothing has been tested positive in Minnesota, and if it continues for another day or two the league could start to be confident that it will not be transferred from one team to another during a game.
But the NFL and the NFLPA need to know how the virus got into the Titans building. They should make sure the rest of the league knows what they have learned. They need to take some form of disciplinary action if – if! – they found out that it was the result of someone’s negligence. And while they have it, they might want to do something about the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders are under investigation in the league for letting an unauthorized individual into their locker room after a game. Coach Jon Gruden was fined $ 100,000 and the team $ 250,000 for Gruden’s inadequate use of a face-to-face league covering the sideline during a game. (Four other coaches and teams were also fined for the same offenses.) And later this week, a video of Raiders players attending an internal charity event and gathering and posing appeared. of photos to guests while not wearing masks.
Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr may give all the news conferences they want about how they “do a good job” and “they don’t try to be careless and reckless,” but the speech is louder. than words. The Raiders ’actions are not a team that takes this matter seriously, and the fact that they are flying under the radar is not a good thing for NFL chances of playing an entire season.
What Carr, Jason Witten, Darren Waller and the other Raiders in that event did was amazing. Coronavirus protocols have been negotiated between the NFL and the NFLPA allowing the team (but not the league) to fine them for it. Complicating their actions is that both protocols allow their team, they must contract with COVID-19 as a result of attending a prohibited event (this one violates state and local regulations, and the club of the country that hosted it was punished by the state), to classify their illness as a non-football injury. If a player is on the non-football injury list, his team will not pay him.
I hope it doesn’t come that way. I hope, the Raiders ’reckless stupidity chickens don’t come home to roost. But until we see five-to-seven days of negative trials in Vegas, we need to count this week’s Buffalo Bills-Raiders game that could be dangerous with the Vikings-Houston Texans. If a Titans player transmitted the virus to a Vikings player during a game last week, or if an unmasked guest at a Waller charity event delivered it to an unmasked Raider , we can look at three postponed games this week instead of just one.
“I don’t want to say what it is, but that’s why the plan was put in place to have men, to be prepared and why so many people … are enthusiastic and do not go out and are reckless and cautious,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “I study at my kids’ house. We don’t have guests at home. You have to do those things if you want to play games on Sunday.”
This is the point the NFL has been trying to drive home – and take its coaches home – for the past two months. This whole thing is a powder. I heard Carr stand there and say “we had a moment where we slipped,” and all I had to say was the guy didn’t get it or didn’t care. Isa moment where you slip is enough to enter the virus. Major League Baseball found out during the Miami Marlins’ outbreak in August that infected 18 players and threw the schedules of several teams into turmoil for weeks.
There are people in our society who do not buy any of these – who think the virus is a scam or an exaggeration. So that means there will be people in the NFL who think the same way. There are definitely players and coaches and front-office people who roll their eyes at protocols and constant reminders that they need to follow them. And no matter how serious anyone who takes the virus, everyone wants to be able to snap their fingers and get back to normal. But the NFL position, built on a mountain of advice from the medical community, is not feasible. The league strives to ensure that players, coaches and other personnel act in a way that respects that position. Coaches who do not wear masks during games will continue to be fined, and this week the league told them they could also end up suspending or docking draft picks if fines do not work. If they don’t get their attention, it’s hard to imagine what will happen.
So yes, the NFL and the NFLPA will conduct their inquiry into what happened in Tennessee. If the result of that inquiry is the discovery of a test hole and tracking protocols, they will work to patch it. Does that mean testing on gamedays mornings, currently only days of the week where the NFL is not being tested? Could it mean the next time the coach test returns positive on Saturday morning, as the Titans did outside linebacker coach Shane Bowen last week, that his close contacts will also not be able to board the plane ? It needs to be considered at least. The situation has no precedent, which means COVID protocols should be malleable.
Adam Schefter reported that there were two more positive tests from the Titans, including one player, that led to the NFL postponing Tennessee’s game against Pittsburgh.
But as reliable and effective as these protocols have been in identifying cases and limiting the spread, there is no way to get them to 100% effective. There will be many cases. There will be more outbreaks, facility closure, game postponement. Unavoidable. The key to drawing during this NFL season is the behavior of people on the ground. The ability of players, coaches and team personnel to make the personal sacrifices necessary to keep the virus as long as possible. And if players and coaches start to let go of their vigilance, the NFL must be strong, public and enthusiastic to make sure they get it back.
We will not know if the NFL will complete this season until it has. External challenges are and will remain significant. They can prove impossible to overcome. But failing to eliminate internal challenges will only make things worse. This week has been a reminder that they have, and they should be kept to a minimum if this football season succeeds.