The COVID-19 Tennessee outbreak does not end the NFL 2020 season. This is the beginning of its most important part.
This week’s development shocks only those who are comfortably accustomed to the usual rhythms of the football season and have forgotten about the potentially impossible circumstances under which it is played. The NFL knew it was approaching – a week when the coronavirus infected one of its teams to such an extent that he had to think about postponing the game. He knows it will happen again. The NFL is not responsible for whether or how its games will be played this season. There is a virus. So the league will adjust everything possible, even if the decisions are not perfect or generally satisfactory.
But equity issues aren̵7;t as worrying as existential ones, which is why this week should be a wake-up call – a reminder to those who may have forgotten what’s going on in the world that it’s impossible to protect the eternal-island NFL. from him. As smoothly as the training camp and the first few weeks of the season went, now is not the time to relax, and this time is not soon.
“Our job just isn’t done. It needs to stay vigilant,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMoris Smith said in an interview with CNN on Thursday. “But I’m happy with what I’ve done, I’m happy with the protocols that have already been in place, and we’ll find out exactly what happened.”
Much more important than moving the game to Week 4 between the Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers is that the NFL and NFLPA remain at the top of the outbreak in Tennessee. The league championship released a note on Thursday reminding teams: “There is one simple rule to remember: behave as if everyone you come in contact with is infected with COVID and accept the appropriate protocols.” The memo sets new rules for teams such as the Titans, which have outbreaks, or the Minnesota Vikings, which are in contact with teams that have outbreaks. These include increased testing requirements, masks and gloves during practice, and only virtual meetings.
They continue to test Titans players and staff on a daily basis, isolate those who have positive results – five players and six employees this week – and monitor their close contacts to try to control and prevent further spread. They continue to test players and staff of Vikings who played with the Titans on Sunday. So far, no one in Minnesota has passed the test, and if it continues for another day or two, the league may begin to feel confident that it has not been passed from team to team during the game.
But the NFL and NFLPA must find out how the virus got into the Titans’ building. They need to make sure everyone else in the league knows what they are learning. They should apply certain disciplinary sanctions if – if! – they find out that it was the result of someone’s negligence. And while they’re doing it, they might want to do something about the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders are under investigation by the league for letting an unauthorized person into their locker room after the game. Coach John Gruden was fined $ 100,000 and the team was fined $ 250,000 for not using a protected face assigned by the league on the sideline during the game. (Four other coaches and teams were also fined for the same violations.) Then this week came a video of the Raiders attending a charity event indoors and mixing and posing for photos with guests without masks.
Gruden and defense attorney Derek Carr can hold any desired press conferences about how well they “did their job” and they “didn’t try to be careless and reckless,” but actions speak louder than words. The Raiders’ actions do not apply to a team that takes the matter seriously, and the fact that they are flying under the radar is not very good for the NFL’s chances of getting a full season.
What Carr, Jason Witten, Darren Waller, and the other raiders at the event did was incredibly stupid. Coronavirus protocols agreed between the NFL and the NFLPA allow the team (but not the league) to fine them for it. What makes their actions even more foolish is that these same protocols allow their team to sign a contract for COVID-19 as a result of attending a prohibited event (which violated state and local rules and the country club that hosted it was fined. state), to classify their illness as not a football injury. If a player is on the list of non-football injuries, his team must not pay him.
We hope this will not happen. Let’s hope that the Raiders’ careless stupidity chickens don’t come home for the night. But until we see five to seven days of negative testing in Vegas, we’ll have to count this week’s Buffalo Bills-Raiders game as potentially dangerous, along with the Texas Vikings and Houston. If a Titans player passed the virus to a Vikings player during a game last week, or if an unmasked guest at a Waller charity handed it over to an unmasked Raider, we could consider three pending games this week instead of one.
“I do not want to say that this is what is, but that is why a plan was made to have guys, to be ready and why so many people … diligently do not go outside, and are reckless and be careful,” he said. on Wednesday, Steelers defender Ben Retlisberger. “I teach my children at home. We don’t have guests at home. You have to do that if you want to play games on Sunday.”
This is the moment the NFL has been trying to go home – and get its coaches to go home – over the last few months. This whole thing is a powder keg. I heard Carr get up there and say, “We had a few moments when we slipped,” and all he tells me is that the guy either doesn’t understand or he doesn’t care. One The moment you jump is enough for the virus to penetrate. Major League Baseball discovered this during an outbreak in Miami Marlins in August that infected 18 players and threw the schedules of several teams a week into chaos.
There are people in our society who don’t buy any of this – who think the virus is a hoax or an excess. So it is clear that there will be people in the NFL who think the same way. There are probably players, coaches and people working in the front office who roll their eyes at the protocols and the constant reminders that they have to follow them. And no matter how seriously someone takes the virus, everyone wants them to be able to click their fingers and just get back to normal. But the NFL’s position, built on a mountain of medical community advice, is that it cannot. The league has made every effort to ensure that its players, coaches and other staff act in a way that respects this position. Coaches who do not wear masks during the games will continue to be fined, and this week the league told them that they can also finish or suspend the prize if the penalties do not work. If it doesn’t get their attention, it’s hard to imagine what will happen.
So yes, the NFL and NFLPA will investigate what happened in Tennessee. If this query results in a hole in the test and tracking protocols, they will work to fix it. Does this mean testing in the morning on game day, currently the only day of the week on which the NFL does not test? It can. Does this mean that the next time the coach’s test returns positive on Saturday morning, as the Titans coach Shainer Bowen did last week, his close contacts can’t get on the plane either? It is necessary to consider at least it. The situation is unprecedented, which means that COVID protocols must be flexible.
Adam Schefter reports that there were two more positive tests from the Titans, including one player, which led to the postponement of the NFL game against Pittsburgh.
But as reliable and effective as protocols have detected cases and limited the spread, it is impossible to achieve them with 100% efficiency. There will be more cases. There will be more flashes, closing of objects, transfer of games. This is inevitable. The key to the start of this NFL season is the behavior of people on the ground. The ability of players, coaches and team staff to make the personal sacrifices needed to contain the virus as much as possible. And if players and coaches start to fail, the NFL must make sure loudly, publicly, and persistently that they return.
We won’t know if the NFL will be able to finish this season until that happens. External challenges are and will remain significant. They may not be overcome. But if you do not overcome the internal challenges, it will only complicate the situation. This week was a reminder that they exist and that they need to be kept to a minimum for this football season to succeed.