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#pounditFriday, January 28, 2022

Articles tagged: coronavirus

NFL could determine playoff field based on win percentage, not wins

Roger Goodell

The Tennessee Titans are in danger of having to postpone or even cancel their second consecutive game this weekend, and the NFL is trying to figure out a schedule that will still allow all teams to play 16 games. If that becomes impossible, the league may have to consider a significant change for determining which teams qualify for the postseason.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Thursday that the NFL has discussed the idea of determining the playoff field based on winning percentage rather than total wins. That may become necessary if one or more teams are unable to play a 16-game season.

The Titans’ Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed, so the NFL treated it as a bye week for both teams. That approach will work for any team that has to postpone one of its games, but things become more complicated if a second is unable to be played. With Tennessee still returning positive COVID-19 tests this week, the league is working toward a solution.

If the NFL does decide to determine the playoff field based on win percentage, that would likely be a much more favorable outcome for the Titans than another one that is being discussed.

Could Titans be forced to forfeit game due to positive coronavirus tests?

Roger Goodell

The Tennessee Titans have been unable to avoid additional positive coronavirus tests since their Week 4 game was postponed, and that has now put their Week 5 contest in jeopardy as well. Since Week 4 was already treated as their bye, there has been talk of the NFL potentially making the Titans forfeit their Week 5 game.

The Titans returned another positive COVID-19 test on Thursday, which makes three in the last two days and 23 total since Sept. 24. An investigation from the NFL and NFL Players Association reportedly determined this week that the Titans broke coronavirus protocols by holding an unauthorized workout, which could lead to serious disciplinary action. Multiple reporters are now speculating that the NFL could force the Titans to forfeit Sunday’s scheduled game against the Buffalo Bills.

As part of a memo that was sent to teams last week, the NFL reportedly informed teams that a failure to follow coronavirus protocols could lead to discipline that includes the loss of draft picks or forfeiture of a game. The Titans were already in the middle of their outbreak when that memo was issued, so they would likely be furious if the NFL applied it to their situation.

The NFL has already made some strong statements about following coronavirus protocols, but forcing a team to forfeit a game would be far more extreme.

Dolphins given clearance to have full capacity at home games

miami dolphins logo

The Miami Dolphins will once again have a limited number of fans at their next home game, but their local government is no longer standing in the way of filling every seat at Hard Rock Stadium.

Radio host Andy Slater was told by a spokesperson for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that the Dolphins have been given clearance to host a full-capacity crowd, which would be 65,000 people. However, they will stick with the current plan of hosting 13,000 fans at least for their next home game on Oct. 25.

Several NFL teams have been hosting limited crowds, while others continue to not allow any fans at games. Masks are mandatory for fans at games across the league, but the NFL has let teams handle their respective crowd sizes on a case-by-case basis.

It’s unclear if the Dolphins plan to host 65,000 fans, but they could increase the number they allow at some point.

NFL makes further changes to COVID-19 protocols

Roger Goodell

The NFL is further strengthening its protocols to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks around the league.

Among the new protocols put in place are restrictions on weekly tryouts and a ban on gatherings outside club facilities. The league even plans to use video to ensure that the protocols are being adhered to.

The changes come on the heels of a week that saw the Tennessee Titans suffer an outbreak, which forced the postponement of their game against Pittsburgh. The league does not want to see that happen again.

How serious is the NFL when it comes to enforcing the policies? Just ask the Las Vegas Raiders.

Raiders players fined for attending fundraiser without masks

Raiders logo

Several members of the Las Vegas Raiders can tell you just how serious the NFL is about enforcing its COVID-19 safety protocols.

Raiders tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 and several other players were fined $15,000 after recently appearing at a fundraiser without wearing masks. Waller’s fine was largest, likely because he was the one hosting the event. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that quarterback Derek Carr was one of the other players fined.

The NFL took notice when photos and videos from the event showed Raiders players being introduced while not wearing masks. Owner Mark Davis noticed as well, and was critical of the players.

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to restrict players from attending any event that violates state or local restrictions. The agreement also included players avoiding indoor concerts, music or entertainment events. They have further agreed to restrict players from visiting bars or night clubs with 10-or-more people and without wearing a mask. Players are also not supposed to attend house gatherings with more than 15 people and without wearing a mask.

This isn’t the first time the Raiders have been fined for violating those requirements. Perhaps the message will get through now.

NFL reportedly discussing playoff bubble following coronavirus cases

Roger Goodell

The NFL has already postponed one game and had players test positive for the coronavirus on multiple teams, which has led to talk of potentially needing a bubble plan going forward. That is still on the table, at least for the playoffs.

Discussions about playing games in a postseason bubble have picked up for the NFL internally, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The most viable plan would involve the two conference championship games being played in a hub city.

While the idea of a playoff bubble has gained traction with the NFL’s competition committee, there are some within the NFL league office that are not excited about it. The NFL Players Association also did not want to pursue the bubble concept prior to the season, though the two sides are expected to discuss it again at some point.

The Tennessee Titans had a COVID-19 outbreak this week, which resulted in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers being postponed until later in the season. Patriots quarterback Cam Newton also tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning, so New England’s game against the Chiefs has been moved to Monday night at 7 p.m. EST. No additional positive coronavirus tests had been returned from the Patriots as of Sunday morning, and the game will be played Monday if that holds true on Monday morning.

Major League Baseball had teams host regular-season games at their home cities but has moved to a bubble plan for the postseason. Players have already expressed some concerns with MLB’s setup.

Patriots-Chiefs game postponed due to positive coronavirus tests

Roger Goodell

Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test result means the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs will not play as scheduled.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs game, which was scheduled to kick off at 4:25 p.m., will not be played as scheduled. In a statement, the NFL said it aims to play the game Monday or Tuesday. Schefter says Tuesday is more likely.

The Chiefs are also facing COVID-19 questions. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Kansas City practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has tested positive as well. Ta’amu previously had served as the Chiefs’ Lamar Jackson imitator during practices, and may have played the same role with the Chiefs preparing for Newton during this week’s practices.

Much will depend on further testing for both teams. For now, no further Patriots players have tested positive since Newton’s positive test, but that does not mean New England’s players are out of the woods.

Cam Newton tests positive for coronavirus, will not play Sunday

Cam Newton

The New England Patriots will not have their starting quarterback on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. He will be placed on the COVID-19/reserve list and miss Sunday’s game. Schefter added that, for now, there is no indication that the virus has spread to any of Newton’s teammates.

It’s a significant blow for the Patriots in what was expected to be an exciting matchup between two of the game’s most electric quarterbacks. New England will have to choose between Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer to start in Newton’s place.

Newton’s positive test comes on the same weekend as another game was postponed due to a separate outbreak. There was no initial word on how Newton was feeling or whether he was symptomatic.

NFL announces new coronavirus testing plan, bye week policy

Roger Goodell

The NFL is expanding its coronavirus testing program in response to multiple members of the Tennessee Titans organization contracting COVID-19 this week.

On Friday, the NFL and NFL Players Association reached an agreement to extend the league’s daily coronavirus testing program indefinitely. There was previously a plan in place where daily testing would end if the positive test rate fell below a certain threshold, but daily testing will now continue regardless. The policy also calls for players and coaches to remain in their home cities during by weeks.

Two more Titans players tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total to seven players and six other members of the organization. The Minnesota Vikings, who hosted the Titans last Sunday, have not returned any positive tests.

Sunday’s game between the Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed until later in the season, making this week a bye week for the two teams. At least one player has expressed frustration over the way the situation has been handled.

NFL looking into Raiders players not wearing masks at charity event

Raiders logo

The Las Vegas Raiders have already received a substantial fine after head coach Jon Gruden failed to properly wear his mask on the sideline, and several of their players could now be in hot water for violating coronavirus protocols.

Roughly 10 Raiders players attended a charity event held by tight end Darren Waller on Monday night, and photos and videos from the event showed them mingling with fans while not wearing masks. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the NFL and NFL Players Association are looking into the situation.

As Pelissero mentioned, any disciplinary action would come from the team. That would likely be in the form of fines, if anything.

Gruden was asked about the event this week, and he defended the job the Raiders have done in following coronavirus protocols. He also praised his players for helping to raise over $300,000 for a charitable cause.

Raiders owner Mark Davis was openly critical of players for not wearing their masks.

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to restrict players from attending any event that violates state or local restrictions. The agreement also included players avoiding indoor concerts, music or entertainment events. They have further agreed to restrict players from visiting bars or night clubs with 10-or-more people and without wearing a mask. Players are also not supposed to attend house gatherings with more than 15 people and without wearing a mask.

The NFL has been taking coronavirus restrictions seriously. Gruden is one of five coaches who have been fined for not wearing masks at all times during games, and he responded by wearing this on his face last weekend.

It’s unclear if the Raiders plan to discipline any of the players who attended Waller’s event.