Five NFL coaches and their teams have been fined over $1.7 million in total over the course of the past 24 hours as a result of their inability to follow the agreed-upon Covid-19 protocols regarding personnel on the sidelines being required to wear masks during games. Both Jon Gruden and Sean Payton were fined yesterday for their failure to adhere to the rule on Monday night.
You won’t find Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin doing that. He was asked yesterday for his reaction to the news of the league fining head coaches for not wearing masks. “I have no reaction”, he said. “For me, personally, I’m just thankful to be working. A lot of us are not able to in this pandemic circumstance. I don’t take that for granted. I just want to show a good example and show that I’m thankful for working. I try to be as diligent as I can”.
It’s really that simple. You expect your players to be safe and adhere to the rules, especially when they are away from the facilities, but if you can’t even manage to follow the protocols that were agreed upon between the NFL and the NFLPA as part of the deal that allowed players to return to play, then what message is that sending them? How can you expect to hold them accountable when you can’t hold yourself accountable?
Whether you agree with the protocol that personnel such as head coaches have to wear masks while on the sidelines or you think it’s unnecessary, part of being a leader is setting the example and adhering to the rules that are in place. As long as it’s a rule, you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice when you fail to do something as basic as keep a mask over your face.
And if you can afford to let go of $100,000 that easily, especially during a time in which millions of people are still out of work because of Covid-19, and millions of those jobs may never even return, then perhaps you make too much money. It’s not too much to expect of a head coach to wear a mask at the appropriate times.
And results have shown that it has been the players who have been more responsible than other personnel. For yet another week, there have been no players testing positive for Covid-19, but five non-player personnel tested positive. Al Riveron, the head of officiating, missed the first week of the season because he tested positive.
The players by and large have shown the most responsibility, and big props to them for that. It’s up to the rest of those around the players to hold up their end, the way Mike Tomlin is. And remember, the league sent out a stern warning after Week One about mask compliance. At least five head coaches didn’t pay close enough attention.