Week by week, NFL coaches are learning to wear (or defog) their face shields and have mostly been keeping their masks on. But one head coach remains especially careless when it comes to covering his face.
For the past three weeks, Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been lax with his mask.
After Week 2, he was fined $100,000 for violating the league’s COVID-19 policy on face coverings. The next week, he wore whatever this was. And yesterday, the former color commentator was rocking the chin strap.
And it’s not just Gruden who is receiving fines. The Raiders were also penalized to the tune of $250,000 for failing to enforce the league’s pandemic mandates.
Vegas TE Darren Waller and a number of his teammates were also fined today for attending Waller’s fundraiser event without face protection.
Gruden’s reluctance or negligence (or both!) when it comes to mask usage is not only bad for his wallet and for the Raiders as a team, it’s bad for a league that is — on its surface — trying to take the virus seriously.
The Titans’ team outbreak and whatever the Patriots are doing have put the NFL and its players at risk to contract and spread a potentially deadly virus.
“It’s not OK to not wear a face covering. The recent events demonstrate why we feel that way,” Dr. Allen Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, told ESPN in a segment on Outside The Lines.
“We can’t simply rely on the tests. None of these tests are 100 percent perfect and things can always get introduced. That’s why it’s key that we don’t rely on tests to keep us safe. What keeps us safe are masks and face coverings and physical distance and hand hygiene and all the other public health messages.”
This afternoon, Roger Goodell wrote about his concern with the league and the pandemic. In a memorandum sent to team owners, presidents, GM’s, infection control officers and head coaches, the commissioner called coronavirus protocol compliance, like mask wearing, “mandatory” ... as if it were not already.
The bizarre part of this story is when I get to remind you that Gruden, himself, had COVID. After he couldn’t keep his mask on in Week 2’s Monday night matchup, Gruden admitted: “I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it … I’m calling plays. I just wanna communicate in these situations and if I get fined I’ll have to pay the fine but I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize.”
Future NFL mask violations could result in suspensions, forfeits, or loss of draft picks. Gruden’s Raiders could be the first team hit with punishments that severe.
But for Gruden, his “best” is far from good enough. His continued carelessness will hurt the organization, sure. But his reluctance to partake in a simple task could actually hurt the folks around him.