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#pounditSaturday, July 2, 2022

Articles tagged: NFL

NFL adding new rule to prevent repeat of Broncos’ QB crisis

Roger Goodell

The Denver Broncos fell victim to an unusual situation regarding their quarterbacks last month due to COVID-19 protocols. As it turns out, they’ll be the only team put in that situation.

The NFL on Saturday announced a rule change, effective immediately, that would allow players who are already in the league’s testing protocols to join new teams immediately. That means that a team could sign a quarterback off another team’s practice squad in an emergency without having to go through the testing process with them.

This obviously doesn’t do a lot of good for the Broncos now, who had their entire QB room isolating and scrambling to figure out what to do just before a game last month. If that happened now, the Broncos could sign someone off a practice squad and rush them in to start.

It’s a justified rule change. Still, it would’ve deprived us of a pretty cool story in retrospect.

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.

NFL approves plan to reward teams for developing minority candidates

Roger Goodell

NFL owners on Tuesday approved a proposal that will reward teams for developing minority coaches and front office executives.

The new rules, which are only awaiting approval from the NFL Players Association, state that a team that loses a minority coach or general manager that is hired as coach or GM of another team will receive a third-round compensatory draft pick in the next two drafts, as long as the coach or GM was with the original team for at least two years. A team that loses both a minority coach and GM would receive third-round compensatory picks in the next three drafts.

An example of where the new changes could apply is with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is a popular head coaching candidate and has been with the Chiefs since 2013. If a team like the Houston Texans hires Bieniemy as its next head coach, Kansas City would receive third-round compensatory picks in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Drafts.

One concern with the system is that it does not reward the team that hires the minority head coach or GM. That could lead to a situation where a team is interested in hiring a minority candidate from a rival team. The hiring team may be hesitant to hire the candidate and reward its rival with one or more third-round draft picks. That did not deter owners from approving the proposal, however.

A previous proposal called for teams to move up several spots in the draft if they hired and retained a minority coach or general manager, but that idea was tabled. One black former NFL head coach called the proposal offensive.

Pressure has been building within the NFL to find ways to create more opportunities for minority coaches. Bieniemy was considered by many to be a better candidate than some head coaches who were hired last offseason, and that led to frustration around the league.

NFL could approve team reward system for minority candidates

Eric Bieniemy

A new proposal that would reward NFL teams for developing minority coaches and front office executives will be voted on this week by team owners.

Peter King of NBC Sports reports that the proposal aims to reward any team that develops a minority head coach or general manager. Under the proposal, a team that loses a minority coach or GM that is hired as coach or GM of another team would receive a third-round compensatory draft pick in the next two drafts, as long as the coach or GM was with the original team for at least two years. A team that loses both a minority coach and GM would receive third-round compensatory picks in the next three drafts.

One example could be Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is a popular head coaching candidate and has been with the Chiefs since 2013. If a team like the Houston Texans hires Bieniemy as its next head coach, Kansas City would receive third-round compensatory picks in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Drafts.

King reports that the measure has a good chance of passing, though at least one issue has been raised. The proposal does not reward the team that hires the minority head coach or GM. That could lead to a situation where a team is interested in hiring a minority candidate from a rival team. The hiring team may be hesitant to hire the candidate and reward its rival with one or more third-round draft picks.

A previous proposal called for teams to move up several spots in the draft if they hired and retained a minority coach or general manager, but that idea was tabled. One black former NFL head coach called the proposal offensive.

Pressure has been building within the NFL to find ways to create more opportunities for minority coaches. Bieniemy was considered by many to be a better candidate than some head coaches who were hired last offseason, and that led to frustration around the league.

NFL says it has a plan if player tests positive for coronavirus during game

Roger Goodell

Tuesday night’s situation at the World Series involving Justin Turner has led some to wonder how other sports would handle a similar situation.

Turner was removed from Game 6 after seven innings after testing positive for COVID-19. Despite this, he defied isolation orders to celebrate on the field with his teammates after they won the title.

Such a situation would not happen in the NFL, the league said. It cited a protocol in place for the unlikely situation that a player receives a positive test result during a game.

“Game day tests for night games are conducted in mid- to late-morning,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio via email. “For the most part, it’s unlikely, but possible to get a result before or during the game.”

McCarthy added that all NFL stadiums have on-site isolation rooms. Any player testing positive during a game would be isolated there.

“If a player or Club employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 for the first time while inside the facility, that individual must be placed in a mask and immediately isolated in a separate room with a closed door,” McCarthy added. “Team medical personnel and security would ensure the individual does not come into contact with other individuals.”

It seems like a solid enough plan. That said, the league has still had some issues getting teams to abide by safety protocols. Hopefully these particular protocols won’t need to be put to the test.

NFL players who are ill but test negative for COVID may still have to sit out

Roger Goodell

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.

NFL reportedly has no plans to implement playoff bubble

Roger Goodell

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.

NFL still has no plans to create playoff bubble

Roger Goodell

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills remains opposed to any sort of bubble environment despite requests from within the league to discuss it.

Sills said on a conference call Tuesday that he did not believe a playoff bubble would represent the safest course of action, citing additional concerns about mental health of players.

Sills’ stance comes despite the fact that, according to NFL VP Troy Vincent, Saints coach Sean Payton has specifically asked about a possible playoff bubble.

The NFL has been consistent on its bubble stance, even as games have been moved around due to positive COVID-19 tests among players. That isn’t changing now. It doesn’t help that the NFLPA would need convincing as well.

Report: NFL likely to have Week 18 this season

Roger Goodell

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.

NFL could add extra week to season due to postponed games

Roger Goodell

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.