If you thought that the Covid-19 concerns for NFL teams were paused just because the season was over, today served as a reminder that that is not the case. While players are generally out on their own at this point, you still have ownership and coaches gathering at team facilities, among other personnel in the building.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers had a hiccup in their protocols. He writes via Twitter that head coach Mike Tomlin and other members of his coaching staff were sent home today following multiple positive tests, out of an abundance of caution.
Coach Mike Tomlin and members of his coaching and scouting staff were sent home from the team facility today out of caution because of several positive COVID-19 tests, per sources.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 17, 2021
He does not say who tested positive, however. Given the vagueness of the statement, it is possible that this stems from a positive case from outside of the facility that has left one or more members of the organization as high-risk close contacts, who then subsequently became close contacts of others in the building.
Obviously, from the fan interest, this isn’t going to register much on the radar. This isn’t really at all going to affect the team’s process. There are no games at risk of being cancelled—an all-too familiar trauma for Steelers fans after this past season—but of course, the health and safety of those involved remains of paramount concern.
Needless to say, the coronavirus remains with us, and is apparently evolving into different strains from the UK and elsewhere that can further complicate things. Caution should still be advised in one’s dealings and interactions.
Right now, the Steelers and every other team are in the process of preparing for free agency, though the work that they are able to put forth is limited because of the immense uncertainty surrounding the salary cap situation, as general manager Kevin Colbert outlined earlier today, who was apparently in the building.
Provided that nobody falls seriously ill, however, this should not be a significant deterrent in any way. Everybody in the NFL by now should be rather familiar with working virtually by now, and many teams have already expressed their intensions of continuing to work virtually in some aspects for the long term because those methods were effective.
The biggest impact that Covid-19 has had on the offseason so far is that it has essentially cancelled the NFL Scouting Combine, at least the on-field portion. Teams will still conduct interviews virtually, and there will be shared medical data, but teams will have to rely on Pro Days this year instead.