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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

Articles tagged: coronavirus

NFL threatens suspensions, loss of draft picks for coaches not wearing masks

Jon Gruden

The NFL has fined multiple head coaches through the first three weeks of the season for not wearing face coverings at all times on the sideline during games, and the league says the penalties could become much more harsh going forward.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL sent another strongly-worded memo to teams this week urging them to comply with all coronavirus-related protocols on game day. Failure to do so may result in suspensions or the loss of draft picks.

Five NFL head coaches and their respective teams have already been fined a combined total of nearly $2 million. The fines could continue to increase if the same coaches violate the protocols, but teams will almost certainly take the policy more seriously if suspensions are possible and draft picks are at stake.

Jon Gruden is one coach who has repeatedly violated the mask rules by taking his mask off during games. After he was fined last week, he responded by wearing this thing on his face.

Steelers-Titans game postponed due to positive coronavirus tests

Roger Goodell

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans will not play on Sunday after multiple players and personnel members with the Titans tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini first reported that the Steelers-Titans game has been postponed. The NFL later issued a statement saying the game will be played either Monday or Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, a total of four players and five staffers with the Titans had tested positive. No one with the Minnesota Vikings, who hosted Tennessee last weekend, tested positive.

Obviously, the situation is fluid. The NFL expected positive COVID-19 tests during the season, and protocols are in place to deal with that. Should more positive tests turn up during the week, the plan could change again.

Report: Raiders being investigated for breaking coronavirus protocol

Raiders logo

Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders were fined this week after Gruden once again did not wear his mask throughout the team’s entire game. Now, more sanctions could be coming against the Raiders for a different violation.

The NFL is investigating the Raiders for potentially violating coronavirus protocols by allowing a team employee without proper credentials to enter their locker room. The alleged violation took place following Monday night’s big win over the New Orleans Saints.

Only 40 employees from each organization are allowed inside the locker room. There are security points to prevent unauthorized people from entering locker rooms, and the NFL believes the Raiders staffer eluded those checkpoints.

Gruden and Saints head coach Sean Payton were both fined $100,000 and their teams were fined $250,000 after the two did not wear their masks on the sideline throughout the entire game. Gruden revealed after the game that he already contracted COVID-19 during the summer and said he is doing his best to adhere to the mask rules.

Jon Gruden says coronavirus story was real, not fake

Jon Gruden

Jon Gruden says he actually did contract the coronavirus over the summer, contrary to what some reports may have claimed at the time.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported last month that the Las Vegas Raiders held a Zoom call with players that was supposed to be led by Gruden, but the coach did not show up. The players were told Gruden had been hospitalized with COVID-19. The goal, according to Garafolo, was for the Raiders to send a message to players that anyone can contract the coronavirus.

After the Raiders’ win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, Gruden tried to set the record straight. He said he actually did have COVID-19 and told the San Jose Mercury news that he is tired of people saying it was a prank.

“I did,” Gruden said. “I’m tired of (people) saying I faked it.”

Gruden is one of several NFL coaches who have been criticized for not wearing their masks properly during games. He told reporters on Monday that he takes the coronavirus seriously because he had it.

“I’ve had the virus, OK? I’m doing my best,” Gruden said. “I’m very sensitive about it, but I’m calling plays. I just want to communicate these situations. I apologize, and if I get fined, I will have to pay the fine. I’m very sensitive about all of that and I apologize.”

Three head coaches and their teams received hefty fines this week for not wearing their masks on Sunday. Based on what we saw during Monday night’s game, Gruden and Saints coach Sean Payton could be next.

NFL received great coronavirus news following Week 1

Roger Goodell

The NFL had extremely low rates of positive COVID-19 tests throughout the offseason, but many were concerned about how travel would impact that once games began. Through one week, the travel appears to have had no impact at all.

Zero players or coaches tested positive for the coronavirus between Week 1 and Week 2, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The same was true leading up to Week 1, which is why no player had to sit out due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The NFL was criticized for not postponing the season, but the decision has paid off thus far. There was one coronavirus-related scare leading up to the season, but fortunately that was the result of a series of false positive results. Hopefully the trend continues.

Mike Norvell will not coach against Miami after testing positive for coronavirus

Mike Norvell

Florida State coach Mike Norvell will not coach the team’s next game after testing positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, Norvell said he was surprised by the positive test and was isolated from his family. Deputy head coach Chris Thomsen would coach in Norvell’s absence.

The Seminoles are off this weekend and are scheduled to play at Miami next Saturday. Florida State athletic director David Coburn said contact tracing is underway, and at the moment, there was no reason to believe that game was in jeopardy.

Norvell is in his first season as Florida State coach, having moved from Memphis after last season. His tenure is off to a rocky start. He had some issues with players during offseason workouts, and lost his debut to Georgia Tech last week.

Ed Orgeron says ‘most’ LSU players have had coronavirus

Ed Orgeron

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron says he believes most of his players have already contracted the coronavirus, and he is hopeful that means they will be immune to it for at least a while going forward.

Orgeron told reporters on Tuesday that the majority of LSU players have had COVID-19.

“Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” he said, via ESPN’s Alex Scarborough. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not out for games. … Hopefully once you catch it, you don’t get it again. I’m not a doctor. I think they have that 90-day window, so most of the players that have caught it, we do feel like they’ll be eligible for games.”

Orgeron was referring to the NCAA’s policy on players who have already tested positive for the coronavirus. Those players do not have to be tested again for another 90 days. It’s unclear exactly how many LSU players have had COVID-19, as the school has chosen not to provide regular reports of coronavirus numbers.

LSU is ranked No. 6 in the nation heading into the season. The defending national champions will take on Mississippi State in their season opener on Sept. 26.

MLB postseason format will be true test of pitching depth

Shane Bieber

The MLB has officially announced its plans for the 2020 postseason, and pitching depth will likely be more important than ever in determining which team is crowned World Series champion.

Expanding the postseason from 10 to 16 teams means more games, and MLB is accommodating that with fewer off days. Perhaps the most notable thing from Tuesday’s playoff schedule reveal is that there will be no off days during the Wild Card Series, Division Series or League Championship Series.

A typical postseason series has days off for travel. That allows teams to use their best starting pitchers (and relievers, for that matter) in more games. In order to do that now, starting pitchers would have to pitch on fewer days rest. A team’s ace would only have three days off between starts if pitching twice in a Division Series.

In the past, a team could rely on three or four starters in the postseason. Now, the team with the most rotation depth may have an advantage over the team with the best ace. It will be interesting to see how that element plays out.

MLB, MLBPA agree to bubble plan for majority of playoffs

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been working on a plan to hold postseason games at neutral-site bubbles, and the two sides are now in agreement.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to play the Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series at neutral sites in a bubble-type environment.

Plans were already in place to expand the playoff field from 10 to 16 teams for this season. Rather than have a one-game Wild Card play-in, the first round will be a best-of-three series. Those series will not be played in bubble sites, with the higher-seeded team hosting them.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post shared some more information about the quarantine plan heading into the postseason.

Previous reports indicated that the American League will likely play its postseason series in Texas with the National League playing somewhere in Southern California. The World Series is expected to be hosted at Globe Life Park, which is the new home of the Texas Rangers. You can read more details of the 2020 postseason format here.

NFL warns coaches, staffers about not following face mask rules

Roger Goodell

The NFL has rules in place requiring coaches and team staffers in the bench area to wear face coverings at all times during games, but many did not adhere to those protocols on Sunday. The NFL is not pleased about that.

On Monday, the NFL sent a memo to teams stating that a failure to adhere to the health and safety protocols going forward “will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs.” That likely means the league will begin issuing fines if coaches and staff members do not wear masks properly.

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was one of several coaches and team staffers who were seen without their mask covering their face on Sunday.

Fans also have to wear masks at any stadiums that allow them to attend games. The NFL was testing face shields at one point that players might be able to wear, but it doesn’t seem like those caught on.

Now that teams have been formally warned, it’s possible we could see fines handed out next week if the face covering protocols are not followed.