By: Ray Olivier
Well the first three weeks went almost perfectly. The NFL had zero positive tests, other than A.J. Terrell’s, and each game was played as scheduled. Since then the league has had numerous positive tests on multiple teams as well as having to postpone or push back games by a day on two occasions.
Due to the many positive tests within the Tennessee Titan’s organization the week 4 game they were supposed to have against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been moved to week 7 on October 25. So far this has been the only game to be postponed by multiple weeks but there have been two games to be moved from Sunday to the next night. On both occasions the New England Patriots have been involved.
Starting with a positive test from the team’s quarterback, Cam Newton, the team had to adjust their game plan and take on the exceptionally talented Kansas City Chiefs, in Arrowhead, on a Monday night without their “guy” taking snaps under center. Fast forward two days and the Patriots received another positive test, this time from their best defensive player, Stephon Gilmore. Having a COVID test come back positive two days after that player who tested positive was on the field is a bad look for the league. Not to mention Gilmore was already in the spotlight for his exchange with Chief’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes after the game. Before Gilmore’s test even came back positive, people in the media were criticizing both him and Mahomes for “hugging” at the conclusion of the game.
With the test for the reigning defensive player of the year coming back positive the Patriots had their game moved from Sunday to the following day for the second straight week. Of course, this series of events has led to speculation that the NFL can even finish their season, and there may be cause for concern. How serious the league is taking this pandemic has been rightfully questioned. Coaches are not wearing masks on the sidelines, players are holding workouts when they are not supposed to in locations they are not supposed to be in. All these violations of the new rules for life during the pandemic have gone unpunished.
Coaches like Pete Carroll, Matt Nagy and Jon Gruden have all been spotted with their mouths or noses not being covered for an extended period of time. No fines have been handed out although the league has said any personnel who should be wearing masks, and is not, shall be fined. Titan’s players are practicing at high schools in the area, after they have had more than five players test positive; no punishments have been handed out. Roger Goodell has been quiet through this whole firestorm of tests and postponements and people are beginning to question whether the season will be finished or not. If the man in charge cannot control his employees, then how can consumers have any faith that more positive tests, down the road, will not derail the season for good.
Less skeptical people can look at what happened in the MLB early in their season and bring up the fact that both the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals had a bunch of positive tests and postponed games. Both teams were able to get their players healthy and play the games they needed to make up. Unfortunately for the NFL they do not have the flexibility that the MLB has. The NFL is unable to play double-headers because of how taxing it would be on players' bodies. The best they can do is postpone a game for later in the season and hope that more players do not test positive. Hope is not enough. If football fans hope to watch their team play 16 games and a Super Bowl in February, then players and coaches need to do a better job of following COVID-19 guidelines.