In the midst of the Tennessee Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, the team has been hit with more ridicule and boos, as opposed to the sympathy and worries you’d normally see when an event like this occurs.
But that lack of sympathy exists for a good reason as far as we know.
Around last week, officials from the NFL and the NFLPA traveled to Nashville, TN in hopes of discovering what led to the league’s first team related COVID-19 outbreak. The objective was mainly to discover what details might’ve led to the outbreak in the first place, and if the Titans did their best to avoid this headache of an outcome.
At first, it was reported that the franchise violated protocols that were installed by the NFL in order to prevent this sort of debacle. First were the reports of Titans players organizing for workouts outside of the team facility — after the league reportedly communicated that such workouts aren’t allowed at or away from the facility while it’s shut down.
Then came the news of the Titans potentially ignoring the mask mandate, only growing their risk of contracting COVID-19 if it indeed found its way into the building, and increasing the probability of an extended coronavirus related absence.
Now you see where that lack of sympathy the growing amount of anger is coming from.
Due to the Titans’ apparent negligence, there’s been growing conversations about potential punishment the Titans could face for their actions. The consequences in a new memo sent by Roger Goodell and the NFL explains what they are and details how severe they could be.
“Even the forfeit of a game”, the NFL isn’t playing around when it comes to the failure to follow COVID-19 protocol. https://t.co/S55YTmj9Gm
— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) October 5, 2020
However, even if the league decides to make an example out of the Titans by deciding to hand out punishment, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the NFL has been walking on thin ice with their whole “plan” from the beginning.
From playing games after multiple days of negative COVID tests even after the CDC has explained the incubation period for the virus can range from 2-14 days, to flaws in the testing schedule, the plan the NFL is trying to execute is full of holes regarding being able to safely play a full season without any extreme hiccups.
This plan was doomed to have its setbacks, and potential doom before it even had the chance to walk on its own two legs.
How you might say?
The Incubation Period Is Seemingly Being Ignored By The NFL
Based on data the CDC has gathered, the incubation period for COVID-19 is around 2-14 days. That means if you did contract COVID-19, on average you’d test positive in as little as 2 days, or as long as 14 days after exposure.
That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a problem that’s been arising in the league due to this specific time period.
You see, there’s stark difference between a star like Patrick Mahomes getting COVID-19, and a practice squad guy contracting the virus. I’m not saying stars are more important than the guys not on the active roster, it’s just a matter of where you fall on the totem pole.
That matters a great deal for one reason
The league’s current return to play plan for a player that tests positive for COVID-19 is consistent in falling in line with CDC guidelines.
The problem is, the league is seemingly ignoring the steps that have to be taken before that plan can be put into motion. Take the most recent case with the New England Patriots and All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore for example.
Patriots QB Cam Newton tested positive for the virus a day before the Patriots’ originally scheduled game against the Kansas City Chiefs. One of Newton’s close contacts that was exposed to Newton while he had the virus was Stephon Gilmore, a massive player of importance for the Patriots’ defense.
Gilmore, and other players who might’ve been exposed to the virus while around Newton, weren’t told to stay home and await test results. No, they were flown on a separate plane, tested up until the game on Monday night, and played an extensive amount of snaps.
That wouldn’t be too much of a problem if Gilmore and any other close contacts of Newton hadn’t tested positive. If you know where I’m going with this, you should know that scenario didn’t play out.
Gilmore tested positive for the virus this week, and after he played an entire football game on Monday night. That’s a big problem, especially considering how much contact he made with players from the Chiefs, let alone his own damn teammates.
That's Stephon Gilmore with Mahomes. pic.twitter.com/wY2GECSHgX
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 7, 2020
For the NFL, going out there and playing a football game while ignoring the incubation period, isn’t just dangerous — it’s simply stupid.
I don’t even have the time to dive into how dangerous that is, but my current amount of words should suffice.
This is how outbreaks start, and this is how the season could be turned on its head if it hasn’t been already.
No Local Bubbles Are Making Things Difficult
I think the easiest detail the NFL could’ve added into their COVID-19 plan, was the implementation of local “bubbles” to drastically minimize the risk of anyone getting the virus.
#NFL source to me on ongoing CoVID19 positives: "Roughly 170 'Tier 1' & 'Tier 2' go home every night. We need to reduce the approx 170 chances every night, times 32 teams, times 7 days a week to create an outbreak. The plan we have is a flawed plan. We need local hard bubbles."
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) October 9, 2020
By local “bubbles”, I mean holing your players and staff up in a local or regional hotel, while only being allowed to go to facilities for practice and treatment, and other extracurricular activities the team might plan their selves. That way, players won’t be outside more often than they should, and we’d take another step towards being able to play a full season.
But instead of doing that, players are allowed to go home and do whatever they please without any sort of monitoring from their respective teams.
Yes, I know it sounds super degrading and somewhat disrespectful, and trust me, I’m not trying to make it sound like that all. It’s just the monitoring aspect of the plan would give teams the liberty to freely maneuver the daily goings on their franchise.
During the rigorous times of training camp, and even throughout the season.
Now, since players are allowed to go home, there’s the risk of them getting the disease and spreading it to their families. Not only that, the risk of an outbreak increases with the more people that surround said player.
It sounds elementary, and in reality it is. But the NFL makes the simple things seem so difficult, this idea is one of those examples.
Where Does That Leave Things?
With the Titans, it leaves them in a spot of uncertainty.
If they receive punishment, how severe will it be? Do they even deserve punishment at all? Based off what recent reports are saying, they don’t deserve any whatsoever.
Figures. Too much didn’t seem to add up with this situation for it to be an open and shut case. https://t.co/uskQ3YlaSu
— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) October 9, 2020
Even if punishment is handed down, the whole concept of it shouldn’t take attention away from the flawed plan of the NFL.
If you choose to place your anger and frustration into an uncertain situation like the Titans’, over the well known flaws of an ongoing one like the NFL’s, then you’re irresponsibly putting yourself in a situation to receive misinformation.
Once that happens, I don’t know what else I can do for you.