NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Even if the Tennessee Titans players who gathered for practices on Sept. 30 were unaware that such a meeting was a violation of NFL rules, it was a poor choice to do so.
Multiple groups of Titans players gathered for impromptu practices in the Nashville area on Wednesday, Sept. 30, just one day after the team’s facility had been closed by the NFL due to an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Titans organization.
Those players, however, did not know that such a gathering was a clear violation of the NFL’s lockdown procedure, according to a report by A to Z Sports’ Buck Reising.
While the players who practiced on Sept. 30 weren’t being defiant, assuming they actually had not been told about the NFL’s rule prohibiting in-person gatherings, they were still being reckless.
If there’s one thing that every U.S. resident who hasn’t been living under a rock since March knows, it’s that the coronavirus is highly contagious and spreads easily among people in close contact.
The Titans players who decided to practice on Sept. 30 certainly knew that. If they didn’t, they should have.
They shouldn’t have had to be told to not hold in-person gatherings. They should have abstained from doing so anyway, for the same reason that the NFL eventually banned them from practicing at the facility.
I love y’all, but I’m convinced there could be a video of sick Titans players coughing in each other’s mouths and y’all would be like “Ok, but technically the NFL didn’t say not to cough in each other’s mouths, how were they to know??”
— Currently tweeting through it (@jlomas72) October 8, 2020
It should have occurred to those players that the sooner the Titans outbreak is snuffed out through quarantine, the sooner they can get back to playing.
Now, likely because of those practices, it’s unclear when exactly the Titans will be able to play or practice again.
The practices are likely why it’s been four days since the last report of a Titans staff member or coach testing positive for COVID-19, yet players continue to return positive tests.
WR Corey Davis, TE MyCole Pruitt and practice squad DB Breon Borders have all tested positive since Wednesday.
If the Titans who went out and practiced on Sept. 30 had simply made the logical choice to stay home, this situation would likely have blown over already.
Instead, there’s no end in sight, and frustration is mounting across the NFL.
“I don’t think they will consider forfeiting our game and of course we got the short end of the stick,” said Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, whose Steelers were originally scheduled to face off with the Titans on Oct. 3 before that game was moved to later in the season.
General manager Jon Robinson and, especially, head coach Mike Vrabel deserve scorn and, probably, discipline from the NFL if they did actually fail to communicate the NFL’s ban on in-person meetings, which was announced in a Sept. 29 memo, to their players.
At the end of the day, though, this is on the players who made an unreasonable decision.
Holding those practices on Sept. 30 was a mistake with serious implications, and someone will need to be held accountable.
Two questions remain: who is that someone, and how exactly will th accountability be achieved?
Cover image: Brad Rempel/USA Today