The NFL has felt it necessary to expand and evolve on a weekly basis since the regular season began with regards to the Covid-19 protocols that it has put in place. Since the season began, more than two thirds of the league’s teams have had at least one player test positive. The Pittsburgh Steelers are actually one of the relative few that has not, though at least Jaylen Samuels and possibly others were previously positive, at the start of training camp.
Following the latest weekly scare, during which the league had two players on two different teams trigger positive tests from game-day samples after having played in said games, the protocols have evolved once again, and now the NFL strongly recommends that players wear masks at all times while on the sidelines. They are now required before and after games. Basically, the only people who should not be wearing masks in the stadium are players who are actively in the game.
The reason for this is actually pretty simple, as Dr. Allen Sills recently explained, and it has a lot to do with the Baltimore Ravens’ situation, who had to place seven additional players on the Covid-19 list because they were regarded as high-risk close contacts of Marlon Humphrey, who tested positive. This is what the league’s chief medical officer told Judy Battista regarding the logic behind the new recommendations:
We had two cases this week where we had an individual who ended up testing positive on game day, and then we had to go back and do the contact tracing. And as we did that we realized that there’s a lot of vulnerability on game day, as we would expect, as players are together and unmasked. When you start to look at the cumulative amount of contact, and again, the contact’s not occurring on the field of play, but it’s standing or sitting on the bench areas, it’s in the locker room, it’s in the places off the field. So we’re strictly trying to look at this and say, if we have an individual who is coming in who is positive, what can we do to eliminate that number of high-risk contacts, and obviously mask-wearing is a really important mitigation strategy. So we’ve tried to share that information with clubs, so that players, coaches have that information and realize this is how we keep ourselves safe and keep from being a high-risk contact to a positive case.
This also comes during a week in which the NFL disciplined multiple teams for protocol infractions, which included seizing a draft pick from the Las Vegas Raiders for repeated and ‘brazen’ violations. The Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin were also fined for multiple instances of coaches—Tomlin and Keith Butler, specifically—being seen not wearing their masks at all times during Sunday’s game.
In this clip, Dr. Sills also explains why the NFL really, really wants players to wear masks on the sideline during games. Bottom line: two players testing positive on game day, but playing before those results were returned, played a role. https://t.co/bNdVyNftbc
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) November 5, 2020