When NFL and NFLPA officials descended on Nashville to review the Tennessee Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, they put the team in a position to potentially face discipline over how they followed jointly negotiated protocols. Several teams and coaches have already been fined for individual violations, and if it turns out that the Giants have one or more problems, they could be next.
Titans currently have 10 players on their COVID-19 reserve list, and only Saturday they faced defensive treatment Jeffrey Simons and two coaches who tested positive.
Sources say the NFL and NFLPA, which could finish their investigation in a few days, are looking into whether protocols were violated when wearing mandatory Kinexon trackers, which led to loopholes in tracking data used to trace contacts, and whether individuals failed. Timely reporting of symptoms they or their family members were experiencing, among other things.
After the Titans broke out and tests positive with several other teams, the NFL will hold a call Monday with head coaches and GMs from across the league, according to sources. The Message: If we want to finish this season, there can be no complacency. Everyone plays a role. Protocols don’t fail, people do. The hope is that these situations serve as a wake-up call.
Meanwhile, the Patriots-Chiefs match, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed to Monday or Tuesday after New England midfielder Cam Newton and QB Jordan Ta’amu’s chiefs coaching team tested positive for the new coronavirus. Both elbows were closed immediately.
A source said New England tests from Saturday came clean. If the two teams do not have more positives until Sunday, the match can be played on Monday – a preference for both teams to disrupt the schedule as little as possible.
Sources say one of the changes the league may take into account is to postpone the playoffs again by a week to create a backup week – week 18 – to deal with schedule adjustments due to COVID. That would only mean one week between Championship matches and Super Bowl, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented.
The Association had always expected there to be positive tests and attitudes like this, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sells said them time and time again. Caution and limiting the spread is the key. As for why the Patriots-Chiefs match was postponed and last week’s Falcons were not (despite a positive test from Buck AG Terrell’s corner), the answer is that it was determined that Newton and Tamo were in much more close contact than Terrell.
If the Patriots play the Chiefs on Monday – with New England likely moving to Kansas City on Monday – on their way to their next match against the Denver Broncos, there is a real chance for Brian Hoyer to start both. Newton will have to pass two tests for COVID-19 once the virus leaves his body, and doing so within a 7-day period regardless of whether or not he has symptoms is not an easy task.
While the Titans had 13 new positive cases since last Sunday’s game in Minnesota, plus two more the previous week when a player in the coaching team and a coach tested positive, the Vikings had no positive cases and traveled to Houston on Saturday to participate in Sunday’s match. Against Texas. Protocols do not usually allow for match-day testing, but all Vikings players and individuals will undergo a quick score of a “sponsorship point” at the team hotel on Sunday morning before they are allowed to go to the field.
Sources say this is something that could be established at the league level if the situation warrants.
The Titans facility remains closed until further notice, and it will take at least consecutive days of clean testing to change. As of now, their game Against the Bills is ongoing.
The Vikings facility reopened Thursday under additional extensive protocols that include daily point-of-care testing, fully virtual meetings and mandatory use of personal protective equipment in practice, including masks or mouth shields and gloves (excluding center-throw hands).
As for the Titans, several coaches spending matches in the training cabin on the upper floor have tested positive. Plexiglass dividers have been added and social distancing has been observed in that area this season, but the people are largely fixed and the airflow is not as good as it is on the sideline. Between that area and the team’s plane, there were several additional risk factors for the transmission of COVID-19 on the Titans’ flight to Minnesota that may have contributed to the additional new positive cases in recent days.
They will likely return to a building that has been deeply cleaned with greatly improved protocols, along with other changes of common sense – for example, making sure the caller playing caller and backup caller don’t spend time near each other. One of the many small changes is aimed at keeping everything as it is.