COVID-19 continues to linger around the NFL

Despite best efforts, the NFL still remains in a state of near-constant flux


RB Derrick Henry has been a star for the Titans so far this season (Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Jake Stuart, Staff Writer

The NFL is doing everything it can to keep the league going despite the coronavirus, yet the issue is ongoing and virtually unpreventable. COVID-19 outbreaks continue to impact teams across the NFL. The league had already cancelled the scheduled preseason games, causing teams to play without the normal practice they were used to. The NFL is not playing games under a closed environment in a bubble like the NBA and NHL, and as a result, the coronavirus was bound to have an effect on the league. 

The league has put together a list called “Reserve/COVID-19” this year, with teams being allowed to exempt players from the active roster due to the virus. The list combines those who have tested positive and those who have been in close contact with someone who has. Teams are not however allowed to publicly announce a player’s health, only that they are currently on the list. COVID-19 testing occurs every day except game day for players and essential personnel as well as anyone who is in close proximity to the players. Entering Week 1, only six teams allowed fans in the stands, with all holding 25% or less of the respective stadiums capacity. In Week 6, all but four games had fans in attendance. The Cardinals became the 16th out of the 32 NFL teams to allow fans attendance at home games in some capacity. 

The Tennessee Titans, after violations of coronavirus protocols, are facing a possible fine from the NFL. However, they will not be stripped of any draft picks, forced to forfeit any games or discipline any players or coaches. This brings up the question of whether the National Football Association is being too lenient to teams. 24 members of the Titans organization have tested positive for the virus since Sept. 24. In addition, two of the team’s games have been rescheduled and the training facility was closed for 11 days. According to a source with the knowledge of the findings and the Washington Post, “The review concluded there were issues with the Titans’ compliance with protocols requiring mask-wearing within the team facility.” The team remains undefeated after an overtime win against the Houston Texans.

As for the Carolina Panthers, they were working remotely on Monday and Tuesday due to what the team called an unconfirmed positive test result by a member of the organization. The Panthers are scheduled to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday after a loss to the Chicago Bears at home this weekend. 

After being postponed a week, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots played on Sunday, with stars Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore back on the field after testing positive for the virus at the beginning of October. Center James Ferentz, who had also tested positive for the virus, was able to play in the game. The Patriots team was held out of practice for two weeks before the game. For the Broncos, running backs coach Curtis Modkins tested positive for the virus and did not accompany the team to New England. 

The Atlanta Falcons were off from practice last Thursday after a false positive but were back to work on Friday. They got their first win of the season, beating the Vikings 40-23 in Minnesota. 

The Indianapolis Colts shut down its complex after hearing four members of the team received positive results, yet they returned a negative result on Friday morning and played their game Sunday as scheduled. The Colts beat the Bengals 31-27 in a nail biter, overcoming a huge first half deficit.  

Overall, the NFL is continuing play despite COVID-19 scares from several teams, with the nature of the upcoming weeks and playoffs still a question mark. For now, the league is rejoicing that Week 6 was the first in which there were no postponements or cancellations. It appears for NFL players and fans alike for now, that football is still in play.