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.
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.