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#pounditMonday, December 6, 2021

Articles tagged: coronavirus

Saints, Patriots the latest teams punished for mask violations

Sean Payton

The NFL continues to show teams that there will be serious consequences for not following COVID-19 protocols, and the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots are the latest to face disciplinary action.

The Saints were fined $500,000 and had to forfeit a seventh-round draft pick for violating mask protocols, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. New England has been fined $350,000 for similar violations.

The Saints’ latest punishment stems from their locker room celebration following their Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not all members of the team were wearing masks during the celebration. New Orleans was also found to have conducted a meeting without masks.

New England’s fine stemmed from the way Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test was handled in Week 4.

The Saints were punished more harshly because they are considered repeat offenders. Sean Payton was fined $100,000 and the organization was fined $250,000 earlier in the season after the coach failed to following face-covering protocols.

Multiple teams have now been fined for COVID-19 protocols. The Las Vegas Raiders faced a similar penalty to the Saints, and the NFL is clearly committed to enforcing the rules.

Ravens discipline coach who failed to report COVID symptoms

Baltimore Ravens logo

The Baltimore Ravens may have identified the source of their ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and have taken disciplinary action accordingly.

The Ravens announced Wednesday that they disciplined an unnamed staffer for unspecified conduct relating to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak within the team. The type of discipline was not announced, nor were any further details.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, the Ravens disciplined an unnamed strength and conditioning coach for failing to report symptoms of COVID-19. The coach also failed to consistently wear a mask or a mandated tracking device. There is some belief that this individual may be the source of the outbreak that has led to seven players landing on the COVID/Reserve list.

The outbreak also led to the postponement of Baltimore’s scheduled Thanksgiving night game against Pittsburgh. That decision left Steelers players fuming on social media.

Pelissero notes that the Ravens are hopeful that this discipline could reduce any possible punishment from the NFL. The league has already made clear how seriously they take violations, and the Ravens will want to avoid their wrath.

Steelers players rip NFL for postponing game against Ravens

JuJu Smith-Schuster

The NFL has decided to postpone Thursday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, and players are unhappy with the way the situation has been handled.

After the NFL announced on Wednesday that the Steelers-Ravens game has been moved to Sunday, several Pittsburgh players took to Twitter to rip the league. Star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also took aim at the Ravens for not being able to “get their Covid situation together.”

“First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason,” Smith-Schuster wrote.

As Smith-Schuster alluded to, this is the second Steelers game this season that has been postponed due to positive coronavirus cases with their opponent. The first was against the Tennessee Titans. Baltimore has had at least 10 positive COVID-19 cases this week among players and staff.

Other Steelers players are just as frustrated as Smith-Schuster:

Eric Ebron was another player who blasted the NFL, calling the scheduling change “BULLS—T” (edited for profanity by LBS). Ebron also sent this tweet:

For what it’s worth, at least one player on the Baltimore side seemed angry with the NFL before the game was postponed. You can see that tweet here.

The NFL has done a seemingly good job to this point of handling the COVID-19 situation. There’s no way to please everybody, but ultimately there have been no reports of huge outbreaks or players/staffers becoming seriously ill. Scheduling inconveniences seem like a small price for players to pay.

Derek Wolfe seemingly criticizes NFL for not canceling Ravens-Steelers

Derek Wolfe

The Baltimore Ravens have had several positive COVID-19 tests this week among players and staff members, but the plan is for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday to still be held as scheduled. Veteran defensive lineman Derek Wolfe does not seem pleased about that.

Wolfe took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to mock the NFL for saying “player safety” is always the top concern.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh are supposed to play on Thursday night. There have been at least 10 positive COVID-19 tests within the Ravens organization since Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, but the game was still on as of Wednesday morning.

Since Thursday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 8:20 local time, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Ravens flying to Pittsburgh on Thursday morning is an option.

Wolfe is not the first player who has criticized the NFL over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Other players have been frustrated with schedule changes and aired their grievances on social media as well.

East Carolina-Temple game delayed after player’s girlfriend tests positive

Temple Owls logo

Saturday’s game between East Carolina and Temple was delayed just before kickoff for what is unfortunately becoming an all-too-common reason.

According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the girlfriend of a Temple player tested positive for COVID-19. This led to a delay of the game while the player was taken back to campus in order to take a rapid test. If the test comes back positive, the game’s status will come into question, and a cancellation may be necessary.

The events took place less than an hour before kickoff. That’s why it was so abrupt that the kickoff needed to be delayed.

This is not the only college football game to have its status abruptly changed not long before kickoff on Saturday. Hopefully it’s the last.

This is why Clemson-Florida State was abruptly postponed Saturday

Clemson Tigers logo

Clemson’s scheduled game against Florida State was abruptly postponed less than four hours before Saturday’s scheduled kickoff. We’re starting to get the reasons behind the unexpected decision.

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, a Clemson backup offensive lineman tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. The lineman had practiced all week, including Friday, and had begun to show symptoms of the virus. That led Florida State to grow concerned that he had possibly been contagious and spread the virus to other Clemson offensive linemen who did not yet know it but could spread it to Florida State players.

In addition, the Seminoles feared that playing Clemson in light of that positive would send a bad message and make them look hypocritical. The team has held its players to strict standards to prevent any positive tests. Florida State has not had any players or staff test positive since coach Mike Norvell did in September.

Both Clemson and Florida State have an open date on Dec. 12. The game could be made up at that point.

No, NFL players will not have to wear masks under new Pennsylvania order

Roger Goodell

The State of Pennsylvania issued updated COVID-19 protocols this week that left some under the impression that the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and their opponents will be required to wear masks during games going forward, but that is not the case.

New language added to Pennsylvania’s mask mandate earlier this week states that athletes must wear masks during competition, which they were not previously required to do. The Steelers issued a statement on Wednesday saying they were exempt from the regulations, and things got even more confusing when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said Thursday that NFL teams must also follow the guidelines and have not been granted an exemption.

So what is going on? While NFL teams have not been granted their own special exemption, they’re covered. Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten has since clarified that the team is covered under Section 3 of the Secretary of Health’s Universal Face Covering Order. That section provides exemptions for athletes including for “respiratory issues that impede breathing” while playing a sport. NFL teams can argue that players will not be able to breathe properly while playing if they’re required to wear masks. The governor’s office alluded to that in an update on Friday.

Coaches, staff members, medical personnel, media members, stadium workers and fans will all be required to wear face coverings, but that has been the case all season. From the sound of it, no significant changes will come from the updated mask mandate.

The NFL has already handed down some very harsh disciplinary action to teams that have violated COVID-19 protocols. Forcing coaches to wear masks has been difficult enough, and having players do it would likely be almost impossible.

Here’s where the Raptors will play in 2020-21 due to covid restrictions

Toronto Raptors

Canada has strict COVID-19 protocols in place regarding travel, and the Toronto Raptors were unable to find a way around those regulations for the start of the 2020-21 season. As a result, they will be playing their “home games” elsewhere.

The Raptors announced on Friday that they will begin the 2020-21 season playing in Tampa Bay rather than Toronto. Canada currently requires anyone crossing the border to quarantine for 14 days, and they are not making any exceptions for the Raptors or the NBA.

You can read the full statement from the team below:

While disappointing for fans in Toronto, the news is not a surprise. The Blue Jays had to find a place outside of Canada to play their home games for the same reason, so the Raptors knew this was always the most likely outcome for them.

Matthew Stafford’s wife Kelly goes off on ‘dictatorship’ COVID restrictions

Matthew Stafford

The State of Michigan announced a new round of coronavirus restrictions this week that went into effect on Wednesday, and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s wife Kelly is furious over them.

Kelly Stafford shared a video rant on her Instagram live Thursday in which she unloaded on Michigan officials. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has mandated a “three-week pause” that calls for the temporary closing of restaurants, bars, theaters, stadiums, etc. Stafford believes the decision is crushing small businesses and the local economy.

“I’m so over it. I’m over living in a dictatorship that we call Michigan,” she said. “I understand there’s a pandemic and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it too. If you’re at risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine. But shutting down all these small businesses, things that people have worked their life for, shutting them down again is not the answer because they will not make it. So once we are able to leave our house and once this dictatorship decides to let us have some freedom, there will be nothing left.”

Stafford acknowledged that people are going to call her “ignorant” and disagree with her, but she said she does not enjoy “living in a place where they tell me what I can and cannot do.” You can hear her full comments below:

Matthew and Kelly have had personal experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Lions quarterback has twice been placed on the NFL’s COVID/reserve list this year. The first time was for a false positive test, which Kelly unloaded on the NFL over. She then had an interesting reaction to her husband being placed on the list again earlier this month due to being labeled a high-risk close contact.

Aaron Rodgers sees some ‘double standards’ with coronavirus protocols

Aaron Rodgers

The NFL has implemented a seemingly endless list of COVID-19 protocols in hopes of preventing the spread of the disease, and Aaron Rodgers wonders whether or not some of them are necessary.

Rodgers was asked about the coronavirus guidelines during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday. The Green Bay Packers star emphasized that he is not trying to downplay the protocols, but he wonders how much of what the NFL is doing is based in science.

“I think there’s a lot of questions of are we doing all this based on science and it’s all necessary?” Rodgers said. “There are some interesting conversations to be had down the line about all of that. … I’m just wondering what is this based on.”

Rodgers went into some specifics. He questioned why players are allowed to interact and shake hands after games but need plexiglass between lockers and can’t eat lunch together. The two-time NFL MVP feels some of the protocols are “definitely for the optics of it.”

“I think there’s some double standards — you can dap up a guy after the game but you can’t eat at the same lunch table as a teammate,” Rodgers said. “You can go down to practice and hit each other and be in close contact but you have to have plexiglass between you and the guy next to you in the locker room. Some of those things to me don’t really add up.”

If you remember, Rodgers hinted months ago that he is not in favor of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. It’s no surprise he feels similarly about some of the NFL’s protocols.

The NFL has issued some harsh disciplinary action against teams and coaches for not following COVID-19 protocols. One team owner unloaded on the league over the punishment this week.

You can hear Rodgers’ full comments below: