As the country continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus, every state, and every region, has responded in different ways based upon the situations in there area and the general proclivities of their elected officials. Many residents of the state of Pennsylvania have had mixed feelings about their own governor’s approach, including as it pertains to permitting fans to attend the games of their two NFL teams.
Recently, the governor created a new mandate that requires that all athletes and coaches must wear masks at all times when they compete. However, according to Pittsburgh Steelers spokesperson Burt Lauten, the team is excused from this requirement, as he told 93.7 The Fan.
“We have received guidance from the Governor’s Office that our players are exempt from wearing masks during an NFL game”, he said in a statement. “All other personnel working at an NFL game are required to wear masks, In addition, we will continue to enforce our protocols that require all fans entering Heinz Field to wear a mask”.
From the league level, the NFL recently revised its Covid-19 protocols again in recent weeks, and now strongly encourages everybody on the sideline, including players who are dressed but not actively in the game, to wear masks. Basically, everybody who is not actively competing at that time they want to have a mask on.
It is unclear why the Steelers were given an exemption from this mandate, and I am assuming that the Philadelphia Eagles are also excused from the mandate. The city of Philadelphia has suspended the Eagles’ authority to host fans at their stadium; however, Pittsburgh’s plans for hosting fans, at this time, remain unchanged.
A couple of weeks ago, the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin received a fine for Covid-19 protocol in-game violations when Tomlin was spotted for a length of time at the end of the Baltimore Ravens game not wearing his mask. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler earlier in the game was also seen with his mask down. All coaches are required to wear a mask on the sideline at all times during games.
Last week, the team was hit with its first player Covid-19 positive test, that being tight end Vance McDonald. He remains on the Reserve/Covid-19 List, along with rookie offensive lineman Kevin Dotson, who was placed on the list on Saturday. If he was placed on the list merely as a close contact, then, in theory, he should be eligible to be removed tomorrow. If he himself has tested positive, however, then he must be on the list for at least 10 days, and therefore would miss Sunday’s game.