It’s been an awful news day on Wednesday in the NFL.
Per reports, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19, just days after the Pats faced the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that was postponed until Monday due to Cam Newton’s positive test.
Then, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there were two new positive tests in the Tennessee Titans’ organization, which could threaten Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
ESPN’s Diana Russini also reported a player on the Las Vegas Raiders tested positive.
In short, it’s really bad, and we’ll see as the day and week unfolds what ends up happening with the Week 5 schedule.
In the meantime, let’s break down some of the key ways the league mishandled all of this.
1. Why did the Patriots and Chiefs play at all on Monday?
It felt like the league shoehorned in their Week 4 game after Newton tested positive, and if Gilmore was contagious during that contest, that’s not good at all.
Read this from The Tennessean and you’ll understand why:
It stems from the virus’ incubation period, which varies from person to person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 incubation period can last anywhere from two to 14 days. An infected person can be contagious up to 72 hours before even beginning to show symptoms. In fact, that person might not show symptoms at all and still can be contagious.
In other words …
If it’s not safe for them to travel today, it’s not safe for them travel until at least Wed based on typical incubation. Expecting (hoping) this game gets postponed. NFL needs to cancel extra week before SB, add week 18 for rescheduled games, and be ready to move back playoffs https://t.co/lm0lMYiTui
— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) October 3, 2020
That’s a tweet from Oct. 3. Now we see what’s happened with Gilmore and a sign that the game should have been moved.
2. No built-in “Week 18”
This is something the NFL can do now to fix some of its scheduling issues that could pop up. If you lose a game to an outbreak, you can seamlessly move it to a pre-playoffs week and not have to redo a bunch of scheduled games for multiple teams.
3. The NFL didn’t totally ban postgame interactions
Oh yes, they banned jersey swapping, something NFL players scoffed at since they spend games sweating and breathing all over each other. But this photo is making the rounds on Wednesday:
That’s Stephon Gilmore with Mahomes. pic.twitter.com/wY2GECSHgX
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 7, 2020
Would Gilmore have gotten that close to Mahomes during the game? It’s a question worth asking.
4. More punitive measures for mask violations
Jon Gruden was among the NFL coaches fined $100,000 for violating mask policies, and yet there he was last week, wearing it on his chin. There have been threats of teams getting docked draft picks, but that should have been there from Day 1.
So, you’re saying that the team that had a bunch of players maskless at a charity event, and has a head coach who won’t mask up on the sideline, has a COVID problem?
Go figure. https://t.co/wCR4UWZIy2
— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) October 7, 2020
NFL distributed these new protocols to teams today.
• Teams must keep all surveillance video for 30 days.
• Must be 10 feet apart to eat in the cafeteria.
• Teams must have min. of 5 buses for travel (up from 2).
• Mask regulations strengthened. pic.twitter.com/YtFgDWZHRy
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 7, 2020
5. No bubble
Look, it’s probably impossible to put the whole league in a bubble. But what’s happening now is clearly not working. Maybe everyone should have listened to Dr. Anthony Fauci?