After the Tennessee Titans experienced a Covid-19 outbreak, the NFL and NFLPA quickly agreed to further modifications of the league’s protocol pertaining to actions taken once an organization experiences an outbreak, which included the banning of all outside gatherings during the time that the incubation period would persist.
These are the guidelines under which the Titans were to be operating over the course of the past week. According to Paul Kuharsky, who covers the team, this is not what happened. On his website, he reports that an umber of Titans players did gather while the team’s facility remains closed, meaning that they broke protocol.
He writes that a group of players gathered on September 30 at Montgomery Bell Academy in direct contradiction of the protocols, of which the team was informed in advance of this workout. While he provided images of the gathering, he says that his reporting is based not on the images himself but of what he had been told by sources.
This is significant because an earlier report today stated that, with the Titans triggering new positive tests yet again, the league would be looking into further protocol violations and weighing the possibility of requiring the organization to forfeit games.
The league already moved Tennessee’s week four game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to week seven. The Titans are supposed to play the undefeated Buffalo Bills on Sunday. If Kuharsky’s report is verified by the league office, however, calls for the league to award the Steelers a victory via forfeit will be renewed. Starting offensive lineman Rodger Saffold appeared to acknowledge the veracity of the report on Twitter:
Guys just don’t work out for fun this is for their lively hood, their family, their opportunity. Say what you want but I’m standing up for my team always. https://t.co/wRmlIOT4ww
— Rodger Saffold (@Rodger_Saffold) October 7, 2020
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill told reporters on September 30, “you can’t sit around on the couch for a week and be on a Zoom meeting and expect to go be at a physical peak on a Sunday, or whenever the game is going to be. It’s going to look a little bit different for everybody, what they’re able to do, where they’re able to work out, in a garage, in a gym somewhere, I’m not even sure”.
That was the day before the league announced that the game against the Steelers would be postponed to a later week. It was also the day of that workout. Still, don’t expect there to be a forfeit awarded and Pittsburgh given a free victory.
There’s no question that the Titans will be disciplined in some way for this, certain through fines, and possibly via the loss of draft picks, which has been a relatively common avenue of punishment for organizations, especially in recent years.
A forfeit, however, would be unprecedented. Now, if the Titans are continuing to gather this past week in preparation for the Bills game, that would be another story. But so far there is only evidence of a player gathering a week ago.