NASHVILLE — 18 positive COVID-19 tests for the Tennessee Titans (3-0) over the last six days qualifies them as the NFL’s first team outbreak.
With their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) postponed until what was originally their bye week (Oct. 25), Adam Schefter reported on Monday that their run of consecutive positives had finally come to an end.
That gives the league a little more wiggle room to keep Week 5 between the Buffalo Bills (4-0) and Tennessee on track.
How did things devolve to this point and how did it happen to the Titans? What business does the league have leaking information to national reporters that Nashville’s franchise could be fined or lose draft picks if found to have run afoul of this year’s protocols. Retrospect always makes for better fodder than forward thinking but one wonders who stands to gain from that preemptive PR strike.
Tennessee signed corner Greg Mabin to their practice squad on Sept. 22 and placed him on the league’s COVID-19/Reserve List Sept. 24. By that time, Mabin had at least two days in contact with Titans’ players and defensive coaches. Defensive play-caller Shane Bowen was later placed in COVID protocols before the team traveled to Minnesota in Week 3. The result has seen several members of the defensive coaching staff and players test positive for the coronavirus, though coach Mike Vrabel correctly refused to assign any kind of blame.
Assumptions should not be made when it comes to the health of these players, coaches and staffers.
The conclusion is that the NFL erred in not allowing for ample COVID incubation period time for teams looking to bring in free agents from outside of their buildings. The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed in mid August to test players daily for the coronavirus until Sept. 5 and then extended the daily testing indefinitely as recently as last week.
“We will continue to monitor positivity rates within each club and relevant information from each team community to inform our assessment of testing frequency ahead of the regular season,” the NFLPA tweeted at the time the agreement was made.
Testing requirements were correctly reassessed based on the number of positive cases leaguewide but the signing process should have been lengthened before allowing guys in off the street.
The NFL should worry about what greater lengths should be taken for the safety of all involved instead of focusing on a public relations play to cover their own tracks.