The Tennessee Titans have been the talk of the NFL for the last 10 days, and none of it has been good. Since the NFL shut down the Titans’ facilities on September 29, the Titans have yet to string three consecutive days together without a positive test for COVID-19. This outbreak amongst the team has been scrutinized on a national level and the noise is only getting louder. After the NFL was forced to reschedule the Titans’ Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to Week 7, this Sunday’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills also appears to be in extreme doubt.
Many analysts, experts, and personalities that cover the NFL have been guessing as to how the league will eventually punish the Titans for their alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols. In the midst of the NFL’s investigation into the outbreak, news broke that Titans players held workouts at Montgomery Bell Academy and Belmont’s Rose Park, inciting the ire of football fans across the nation who are calling for a swift hammer of justice. The most frustrating aspect about this is that the Titans did not seem to be following any of the protocols the NFL set for every team in this funky season.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) October 7, 2020
There is not a lot of sympathy going around for the Titans and, frankly, there shouldn’t be. There are many calling for the NFL to step in and force a forfeit if the Titans are unable to suit up against the Bills, but it seems as if the NFL is taking all necessary measures to insure that a forfeit is not the outcome of this mess.
There is even one reporter who is calling for the NFL to shut down the Titans’ entire season.
Why the NFL needs to immediately end the Titans’ 2020 season https://t.co/H95AD7PVij
— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) October 7, 2020
(There is speculation that Doug Farrar was bubble wrapped as a child before being sent off to school, where he spent most of his days peering out from the same locker he was stuffed into.)
Penalties that look more realistic with the current state of affairs are fines, loss of draft picks, and suspensions. In the 100-year history of the league, there has never been a single forfeiture from an NFL team. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon. While the result of a forfeiture is a win for the opposing team, it also means neither team gets paid that week.
Regarding a #Titans' forfeit:
The team's off-site workout violation took place Sept. 30.
The addition of a forfeit as a possibility was added to protocols in a memo yesterday.
There is no way the @NFL can apply it retroactively as a punishment.
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) October 7, 2020
If Sunday’s contest between the Titans and Bills is cancelled, the league will be in a pickle to decide when the make-up date would be. With the Bills slated to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football, the league would have to shuffle more than a few teams around in order for the game to take place somewhere on down the road.
In the event of a cancellation, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that one scenario Commissioner Roger Goodell might have in mind would be readjusting the qualifications for the NFL Playoffs to revolve around teams’ win percentage. With the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders recently receiving positive tests, it is becoming abundantly clear that other teams – not just the Titans – could potentially deal with the inconvenience of an outbreak during the season.
“The NFL has gone over a number of alternative scenarios, and in a season of COVID, it very well may be forced to resort to one of those. And one of those that has come up is that the playoffs won’t be based on a number of wins as it has been every year that the NFL has existed, it could just simply be that it’s based on win percentage. That if the Tennessee Titans go 10-3 this year, or whatever their record is, if their win percentage is better, they go to the playoffs,” said Schefter Thursday morning on Get Up.
“Again, it is not an ideal scenario, but we are not living in an ideal time where everything works out the way you’d like it to. And so, let’s see if they could play that game. Let’s see how it figures out. Let’s see if the NFL can collapse a week later on. Again, all options on the table, the NFL says. They’re going over all of them as we speak. And we’ll ultimately, we’ll see what they decide to do. But I think that in the end, with some of these positive tests, some of these facilities shutting down, some of these games being in jeopardy and we’re just now entering Week 5 tonight, it may well be that the league has no choice but to make the playoffs based on win percentage.”
Featured image courtesy of @PaulKuharskyNFL on Twitter