Are you really surprised?
For months we’ve said that the NFL will do whatever it takes to get to a February Super Bowl. And they’ll get there, whether they have to play Tetris with their schedule in order to fit every game or reluctantly close facilities to avoid another Titans-like outbreak of COVID-19.
Today, the NFL reported 17 cases among players and an additional 35 cases among league personnel recorded between Nov. 8-14.
Next week’s numbers won’t come until for a while … But the league is not off to a good start.
With news of multiple players and teams recording positive cases since Sunday, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer said that the rising number of cases in the league “reflects the continued uptick we’re seeing in cases around the country.”
And if that’s the case, we should expect a surge in positive numbers. This week, a handful of players have been infected, others have been put on the COVID list.
The Cleveland Browns closed their facility on Monday due to Andy Janovich’s positive test. The fullback’s infection forced the organization to shut its doors for the second straight week. Cleveland waited one whole day to reopen the facility after contract tracing revealed no close contacts to Janovich.
The Titans also reported a case on Monday. Linebacker David Long is the only Titan to test positive ... for now. Knowing the recent history of the organization, Tennessee is worth watching as the week goes on.
Last night, the Giants were notified that a player tested positive for the coronavirus. This morning, we found out that the player is kicker, Graham Gano. He is the second Giant in three weeks to contract the virus.
In other news this morning, the Washington Football Team reported their first case of the season. In a statement, the organization said it would conduct meetings remotely throughout the week and limit facility access to players.
As for other players, the Chiefs, Niners and Falcons have all put players on their respective COVID lists this week. Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz will be sidelined for the week in Kansas City. Arik Armstead got on San Francisco’s list on Monday after he played 40 snaps the day before. And Atlanta put their second player, Laquon Treadwell, on the COVID list in four days. He joins Dante Fowler who was sidelined on Saturday.
We don’t know if these players on the COVID list have the virus. But, at the very least, they were exposed to someone who did.
The virus is also forcing teams to reconsider their fan policy. In Maryland, the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team (based in Landover, MD) both announced that they would not host fans this Sunday due to rising COVID cases and hospitalizations in the state.
The Eagles, however, didn’t have much of a choice. The city reimposed restrictions that prohibit large gatherings. The Linc will go back to no fans in the stands when the Eagles play their next home game on Monday, Nov. 30.
The teams I mentioned will likely play this weekend. That’s how these outbreaks have shaken out. As long as the league physically has enough players to play, kickoff will stay on schedule.
But when teams travel all over a county that’s seeing its worst spike in the pandemic, how surprised will you be when we report on this same issue in a matter of days?