NFL Postpones Steelers-Titans Game, Threatens Punishments for Failure to Adhere to COVID-19 Guidelines

Logan Ryan #26 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates his touchdown with teammates against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Logan Ryan #26 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates his touchdown with teammates against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Photo: Kathryn Riley (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, we reported that the Tennessee Titans have shut down their facilities and all in-person work until Saturday in response to multiple players and team personnel testing positive for the coronavirus.

And now, after the NFL’s first coronavirus outbreak this season, ESPN reports that the league will now also experience its first postponement:

Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans has been postponed to either Monday or Tuesday.

The NFL said in a statement Wednesday that a new game date and time will be announced as soon as possible, adding that the postponement will “allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.”

The postponement follows positive COVID-19 tests among the Titans from four players—including starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, long-snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson—and five team personnel members this week.


“I know there’s going to be a lot of questions about the game and about who’s to blame and where it started. Nobody’s to blame. We’re in a pandemic,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “This is a very unfortunate situation, but one that we’re confident that we will be able to handle safely with the football team and the players’ best interests in mind.”

ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that Titans players and team personnel who have tested positive for the coronavirus have been isolated and are being closely monitored. Thankfully, the Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, have tested negative in all of their subsequent coronavirus tests and are still scheduled to play the Houston Texans on Sunday.

In its efforts to be more proactive in addressing any further risk of exposure to COVID-19, ESPN reports that the league also sent out a “strongly worded” memo warning coaches to comply with league protocols and wear a mask on the sidelines during games—or else.

From ESPN:

The NFL has issued another strong warning to coaches who won’t wear masks on the sideline during games, threatening suspensions and forfeiture of draft picks as punishment for failing to comply with COVID-19 game-day protocols, according to a league memo obtained Wednesday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The strongly worded memo, sent to coaches, general managers and team executives by NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, includes a passage in which the NFL says it will “address lack of compliance with accountability measures that may include ... suspensions and/or forfeiture of draft picks.”


This would be the second time this season that the NFL has issued a stern warning related to its coronavirus protocols. And the fines that the league has already handed out to the likes of Denver’s Vic Fangio, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, New Orleans’ Sean Payton and Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden for violating them have been no joke. Each was fined $100,000 and their respective teams were fined an additional $250,000.

Hopefully, the NFL won’t have to deal with any more games being postponed in the future, but with this pandemic showing no signs of letting up, that seems unlikely.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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Now where did I leave that painting my nails emoji?

The amount of machismo hubris at play here is astounding. I dunno whether wring my hands at the billionaires who own the teams, the millionaires who play on them, or the orange billionaire* goading them all to play ball at the worst possible time.

Sports are nothing but an essential DISTRACTION from the death and destruction being spread throughout the globe. Yes, tennis and golf, I am looking at you too! None of these sports are essential to the globe continuing to turn, and as we have seen, people are still losing their minds, even with games being played for their entertainment. 

After that last protest stunt where athletes decided to not play for a whole day, I am exhausted with them. They had all eyes on them, said a few calibrated platitudes, and went right back to playing the next day. NOTHING came from that, and they had all the stakeholders by the balls. They showed their cards, so the same type of protest will be ineffective in the future.

You will not catch me out here worrying about athletes that are not worried about themselves. That Big 10 agreed to play, at the behest of our orange overlord, is a travesty. Of course those schmucks would sacrifice some college age kids for their own gain. Truly sick.

I see now why they French kept their guillotines sharp when they needed them most.