BOSTON (CBS) — This weekend was a bit of a mess for the NFL. There were 77 positive COVID-19 tests to hit the league, prompting a few teams to call audibles on Sunday, including the New England Patriots.
However, upon further review, those positives were false positives. All of those players have since tested negative. The New Jersey lab that yielded those positive results re-tested the samples, and they all came back negative. It’s a tough situation, one that is raising many questions as to what the league will do should such a scenario hit on a game day this fall.
During his Monday morning press conference, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the false positives and what it could mean if they hit a team on a Sunday. But he wasn’t going to touch that one. Instead, he threw it right on Roger Goodell’s lap.
“That’s a question you should ask the league. They put out the statement and I’m sure you can ask them questions if you have them. We’ll control what we can control,” said Belichick.
“We don’t have anything to do with that. The testing is done by somebody else, analyzed by somebody else, and all we do is get the results,” Belichick noted. “That’s something you should redirect to them. From our standpoint, I think we’re doing the right things. We continue to make changes and modifications, and I’m confident we’re doing the best we can.
“If we see something we feel like needs to be upgraded, to be changed, to be improved, to be addressed because it’s not being done properly, we’ve done that on a regular basis. We’ll continue to do that. If we find a better way to do something, we’ll do it,” he added. “We’ve had, really, no problems that we have any control over. If we feel like we need to do something differently, we address it or change it or modify it to make it better or get it right. We’ll continue to do that.”
The Patriots had 11 players miss Sunday’s practice session, and it’s believed that half of them were absent because of those testing results. BioReference released the following statement on the situation Monday morning:
“On August 22, BioReference Laboratories reported an elevated number of positive COVID-19 PCR test results for NFL players and personnel at multiple clubs. The NFL immediately took necessary actions to ensure the safety of the players and personnel. Our investigation indicated that these were most likely false positive results, caused by an isolated contamination during test preparation in the New Jersey laboratory,” the statement read. “Reagents, analyzers and staff were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing has indicated that the issue has been resolved. All individuals impacted have been confirmed negative and informed.”
Belichick’s focus, of course, is not on what could happen in a few weeks. Instead he’s locked in on what needs to happen at practice in the coming days.
“This is a big week for us — individually, in units and collectively as a team — to really start showing progress,” he said. “This will be multiple times — the second, third, fourth time through on a lot of things we’re doing, whether it’s plays, techniques, situations. The team is starting to feel comfortable, whether it’s their assignment or the way they’re doing it, coaching points and so forth. Now we really need to start to see those things come together on all levels, all three levels of the game, and managing the game from a coaching standpoint,” said Belichick.
“We all have a lot of work to do and hopefully are in a position to string some good days together,” he added.
Belichick said it’s not unusual to have a number of players in and out of practice during game, and this year is no different.