Written By: Maggie Warnick
This fall, the professional football season has looked a lot different than previous years due to the coronavirus. However, difficulties for the National Football League (NFL) continue, especially as the case count rises across the U.S. Protocols to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the league have been put in place and altered as players on several teams have tested positive throughout the season. Various outbreaks and positive tests have led to games being delayed, postponed and rescheduled as the league coordinates this unique season. After a period of much disruption, the schedule has been able to remain as planned over the recent weeks.
In spite of this stability, the NFL continues to have to crack down on teams who do not adhere to the COVID-19 protocols, issuing fines and disciplinary actions for violations. According to The Hill, the Seattle Seahawk, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans have been fined upwards of $250,000 for transgressions of the regulations. The head coaches have also been fined, with many pointing to them as culpable for not enforcing the guidelines with their respective teams. Some of the broken guidelines in question include not wearing masks, illicit player gatherings and using team facilities after hours. The NFL stated that they believe breaking these protocols contributed to the first major outbreak of COVID-19 among the Titans.
According to the NFL Network, the Pittsburgh Steelers have also been fined recently for failing to properly wear masks at all times during their Nov. 1 game against the Baltimore Ravens. This included the head coach, Mike Tomlin, who was fined $100,000. The need to adhere to the regulations became even more clear when after the game the Ravens’ cornerback Marlon Humphrey tested positive for the virus.
Later in the week, the Steelers announced that a staff member had tested positive, and announced in a team statement: “The Steelers are working with the NFL and medical advisors to complete the necessary contact tracing. We will continue to evaluate the situation and make the appropriate adjustments as necessary, that best protect our players, coaches, and staff members.”
Notably, the Las Vegas Raiders have been fined several times, amassing over $1.2 million for coronavirus related infractions, according to the NFL Network. As the team was a repeat offender, they have been stripped of a sixth-round draft pick by the NFL, the first team to be disciplined in this manner. According to Reuters, the team owner has plans to appeal these fines.
As the season goes on, the NFL continues to adjust protocols and set new procedures for the professional football teams as the first professional sports league to have a full and uninterrupted season during the pandemic.