The Tennessee Titans experienced the NFL’s first, and one can only hope, only, Covid-19 outbreak of the 2020 season. As of this writing, there have been nine new positive cases over the past few days, with four of them being among players, and it has resulted in their upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Steelers being postponed for at least one day.
Despite this setback, one can reasonably argue that the manner in which this has unfolded demonstrates that the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols have been effective. Short of playing the season in a bubble, which was never going to happen, experiencing some positive cases during the year was a virtual inevitability.
“You hope something like this is not going to happen, but I think we knew going into the season that along the way, things like this were most likely going to happen, and we’ve just got to be able to deal with it”, Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II said on the DVE Morning Show on Wednesday. “And I think we will deal with it”.
“As I said, hopefully this is going to be limited to just a small number of players”, he added. “And actually, the Vikings don’t have any players that tested positive from what I understand, it’s just being cautious since they played the Titans last week, that they’re being asked to shut down for a couple of days as well. So I think all the precautions are in place and hopefully this is a very limited situation”.
The NFL has sent out multiple memos this week strongly reminding everybody involved to adhere to the protocols that were agreed to between the league and the players union to do their best to ensure that the season could be played without interruption. Fines have already been issued, and suspensions or forfeiture of draft picks has been threatened.
It remains to be seen where we go from here. The hope, of course, is that the game between the Titans and the Steelers is played next week. The hope is, of course, that no other team experiences a similarly serious outbreak that threatens the ability for another game to be played.
We don’t know that the NFL will successfully avoid that, but it comes down to personal responsibility. Can everybody involved in the daily operations of all 32 teams maintain responsible behavior, such that they avoid contracting the virus and threaten to transmit it throughout their organization?
It’s really that simple. That’s what the fate of the season rests on. Can people behave properly, well enough to prevent outbreaks from occurring? If they can do that, they can get this season in the books without interruption. And part of that is the daily testing in place that was able to detect these positive cases relatively early.