The Tennessee Titans very nearly single-handedly forced the NFL to expand the regular season to 18 weeks this season just to accommodate for all teams to play 16 games this year, due to the fact that they had a severe and lingering outbreak of the Covid-19 virus that continues to be widespread throughout the country, and which has forced teams like the Green Bay Packers to announce that they would be indefinitely suspending fan attendance to games because of high infection numbers in their region.
All in all, the Titans account for a couple dozen infections among players and other stuff members, and it forced the league to postpone their week four game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which will now be played this week, with both teams coming into the game as the only undefeateds remaining in the AFC.
In spite of this, however, don’t expect much to happen to them. Assuming that an updates story hasn’t already come out by the time this runs, Adam Schefter reported yesterday that the only punishment the organization might be handed was a fine.
This is in spite of the fact that the NFL in recent weeks circulated a memo making it clear that any protocol violations that result in the league being forced to rearrange the schedule could be subject to harsh discipline that may include the forfeiture of draft picks, or possibly even games.
According toe ESPN, there was never even any discussion over whether or not the league would consider going after a Titans draft pick, despite finding that there had been rules violations, including incidents of personnel not wearing masks within the facility, which was required.
In spite of the fact that players were spotted holding workouts privately after their facility was closed, the league is reportedly not weighing this heavily due to the fact that “there was insufficient communication regarding player workouts outside of the facility”.
Since then, the league has essentially barred any player workouts outside of the facility, and has even greatly curtailed any meetings outside of the facility, which could be subject to pre-approval. For example, the Steelers’ offensive line and defensive backs rooms have both had a tradition of meeting up and studying film and spending time together during the week. These would have to be approved first. And they almost surely would not be.
Many Steelers fans were understandable angry at the Titans for their forcing the game to be moved, which has resulted in Pittsburgh having to play 13 straight regular season games to end the year. Tennessee quite frankly hasn’t handled the aftermath well, either.
The team has reportedly used the hate that they have received as a galvanizing force, and us-against-them message, which we saw left tackle Taylor Lewan display following the team’s first game after the outbreak in a post-game rant. He subsequently tore his ACL on week six, but plenty of other Titans who think they have been wronged by the public will be out there on the field next week.