The NFL and NFL Players Association have been investigating what led to a coronavirus outbreak with the Tennessee Titans, and it sounds like a legitimate possibility that the team will be penalized in some way.
The NFL says its probe has focused on what led to the COVID-19 outbreak and how to prevent it going forward. That is the priority, but the league is also looking into whether or not the Titans knowingly violated health and safety protocols. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, there is a belief that the Titans will face “serious consequences” based on what is already known about the situation.
There is evidence that the Titans did not comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols, which were agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA prior to the season. Two general managers who spoke with La Canfora called for the NFL to come down hard on Tennessee.
“They weren’t following the rules. They had an outbreak that kept growing and it forced how many other teams to move around and adjust? We weren’t even affected by it and I’m pis-ed off,” one GM said. “I couldn’t believe what I heard Tuesday night and neither could my owner.”
Another GM said all of the calls and memos from the league have been a waste of everyone’s time if the Titans aren’t “crushed” for what they did.
The Titans held a workout outside their facility even though they knew they weren’t supposed to. It’s unclear what other rules they may have violated or what the punishment could be for doing so.
Alabama coach Nick Saban got some good news on Friday, though he still has a way to go in order to coach on Saturday.
The school announced that Saban received a negative coronavirus test on Friday. It is his first negative test, and he needs two more — each 24 hours apart — in order to be cleared by the SEC.
Saban remains asymptomatic and is still isolating until he receives the necessary clearance from the conference.
Alabama is slated to play Georgia at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. Saban could still coach in that game, but we won’t know if he can until Saturday afternoon.
The Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts were the two latest NFL teams to close their facilities this week due to positive coronavirus tests, but fortunately both teams have already returned to business as usual.
The Falcons closed their facility on Thursday due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests. The Colts then issued a statement on Friday morning announcing that they were dealing with a similar situation. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, all of those tests for Indy were false positives. It sounds like the same was true for Atlanta.
That is obviously good news, though it is a reminder of how false positive tests can cause complications.
As of now, there have been no additional changes to the NFL’s Week 6 schedule. That can change at any time, especially with the health and safety protocols the league’s chief medical officer spoke about earlier in the week.
Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. With his team set to play Georgia on Saturday, it certainly seems highly unlikely that he’d be able to coach that game.
There is, however, reportedly a small chance he could still appear on the sidelines. According to ESPN’s Heather Dinich, Saban could coach Saturday if he remains asymptomatic and tests negative three consecutive times.
“As I’m sitting here right now, I got confirmation from the SEC office that if Nick Saban or anyone else for that matter were to get three straight negative PCR tests and remain asymptomatic, they could leave isolation and rejoin the team,” Dinich said on ESPN’s College Football Live, via Nick Kosko of 247Sports. “It’s important to note that Nick Saban is asymptomatic. He’s continuing to be tested daily. If he gets three negative tests, you could see him on the sideline against Georgia, which as of now, remains on.”
Unlikely, but apparently possible. Saban would presumably need to test negative on Thursday, Friday, and before the game Saturday. That would create a somewhat chaotic and uncertain environment leading up to the Georgia game even if he does coach.
The game remains on as of last word from the SEC, and it’s a big one. Steve Sarkisian will coach it for Alabama if Saban is not cleared in time.
The NFL is trying to be vigilant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which is why players who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately isolated until they can be cleared. However, the protocols the league has in place could eventually result in even players who do not test positive for the coronavirus being ruled out for games.
NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills discussed the NFL’s coronavirus policy on Thursday. With cold and flu season approaching, many are wondering how the NFL will handle players who have symptoms from illnesses other than COVID-19. According to Sills, those players will be sent home and not allowed to return until they produce two negative COVID-19 tests separated by 24 hours.
While the NFL is obviously trying to play it safe, the policy has led to some concern among teams. There are plenty of illnesses other than COVID-19, and in the past players have been able to play through those without issue. Now, if a player exhibits symptoms and is sent home on Saturday, he won’t be able to play on Sunday even if he produces one negative COVID-19 test.
This is yet another reminder that clearance isn’t as simple as producing a negative COVID-19 test. There will also always be the possibility of false positives impacting things, as we saw how that can happen before the season.
These issues could draw a lot more attention as the season moves along. If a player like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson experienced flu-like symptoms the day before a playoff game and couldn’t play, we can only imagine how the NFL community would react.
Nick Saban is the latest college football head coach to test positive for COVID-19. On Wednesday, we learned that the Alabama Crimson Tide head coach tested positive. He says his positive test came despite him practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.
So far, we know of around a half-dozen head coaches in college football who have tested positive for the virus. Nearly all of them have been asymptomatic.
Here is the list of college football head coaches (and their ages) who have had COVID-19.
Nick Saban (68), Alabama – Is asymptomatic so far and awaiting results of second test to confirm the result.
Les Miles (66), Kansas – Had “minor” symptoms and is said to be doing well. Team was on bye week when he tested positive.
Kevin Sumlin (56), Arizona – Did not have any symptoms. Pac-12 has not yet begun play this fall.
Chip Kelly (56), UCLA – Both he and his wife tested positive and had very few symptoms.
Blake Anderson (51), Arkansas State – Tested positive and experienced a fever for 10 days. The symptoms began after the team’s win over Kansas State.
Jason Candle (40), Toledo – Tested positive in July and did not have any symptoms.
Mike Norvell (39), Florida State – Missed Florida State’s game against Miami. Did not report any symptoms.
In addition to Norvell’s positive test, former Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden recently had COVID-19. The 90-year-old tested negative and was scheduled to be released from the hospital where he was for precautionary reasons.
The SEC is still planning to play the Alabama-Georgia game despite Saban’s positive test.
The idea of holding the NFL playoffs in a bubble is one that has been discussed more as positive coronavirus cases keep popping up, but there has been no indication that the league is seriously considering it.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, and executive vice president of football operations Trey Vincent took part in a conference call on Tuesday that touched on the subject of a bubble playoff environment. As of now, there is not much support for the idea. One reason is that officials believe an outbreak inside a bubble would be disastrous. Another is that they fear what the psychological ramifications would be if players have to be away from their families for the holidays.
The NBA and NHL held their entire resumed seasons at bubble locations, and the plan was highly successful. However, the NFL Players Association would still need a lot of convincing, which is one of the main reasons the NFL is trending toward leaving things the way they are.
There’s still a long way to go before the postseason, so the stance on bubbles could obviously change at some point. For now, it seems like a long shot.
The Florida Gators’ football season has been put on pause after an increase in positive COVID-19 tests.
In a statement released Tuesday, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said team activities have been paused “out of an abundance of caution” after “an increase in positive COVID tests among players.”
The university did not disclose the number of positive tests. Payton Titus of The Alligator reported that the number was as high as 19, but added that this was disputed by sources within the athletic department.
It’s not yet clear how this will impact Florida’s scheduled game against LSU in four days. It likely depends on how many positives there are and whether more turn up in the next several days.
Just last weekend, Florida coach Dan Mullen was lobbying for a full stadium for the LSU game. That’s highly unlikely to happen now if the game even goes ahead.
The NFL has had to implement multiple changes to its schedule through the first month of the season, and more are expected as positive coronavirus cases continue to pop up. Eventually, that could result in a week being added to the regular season.
According to NFL reporter Michael Silver, a Week 18 is expected to be added to the season if and when a team has two games that need to be postponed. That scenario is still possible for the Tennessee Titans, who treated Week 4 as their bye after having their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers postponed. They are currently scheduled to play the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night, but that game is contingent upon COVID-19 test results.
Silver adds that Week 18 games would only be played if they have a significant impact on the postseason. As an example, he said a game probably would not be played if it only determined whether a team was a 5th or 7th seed in the playoffs. Here’s more:
The NFL has been determined to play a full 16-game season. Many people feel they should have reduced the season to 14 games and left more flexibility for postponements, but that would impact revenue and player salaries. Those types of agreements are difficult to work out.
Some players have already expressed frustration over the way the NFL is handling its schedule. That frustration could grow even more as the season moves along.
The NFL has had to postpone multiple games this season due to positive coronavirus cases, but the league remains determined to play a full 16-game schedule. In order to do that, an extra week of games may need to be added at the end of the year.
After the NFL announced that Monday’s game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots has been postponed due to another positive COVID-19 test, speculation began growing that the NFL could eventually add a Week 18. The plan for the time being is to have any postponed games serve as a team’s bye week, but that will only work once. If a team needs a second game postponed, the schedule becomes more complicated.
As Judy Battista of NFL.com notes, even adding an 18th week might not solve all of the scheduling issues.
With Monday’s Broncos-Patriots game being moved to next week, the originally scheduled Week 6 game between Denver and the Miami Dolphins has also been moved. Here are the three changes that have been made thus far:
The situation is fluid and will likely remain that way for the entire season. One Broncos player is angry over the way things unfolded this week and made it known on social media.