BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL had been doing such a tremendous job in avoiding a problem with COVID-19 that fans could have been forgiven for briefly forgetting the risks of playing tackle football around the country during a pandemic.
That blissful ignorance, of course, came to an end on Tuesday, when the NFL announced that eight Tennessee Titans — three players and five staff members — tested positive for COVID-19. Another Titans player tested positive as of Wednesday morning. As a result, nobody from the Titans can enter their facility on Saturday, and the Vikings — who played against the Titans on Sunday — are shut down for the time being, too.
Unlike in baseball, where rainouts are a nightly possibility and missed games can be made up as doubleheaders, any missed games in the NFL are sure to cause a major problem, so this week’s rise in positive cases is sure to make teams around the league button up their operations even further.
On Wednesday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked if the Titans’ outbreak serves as a reminder to remain even more vigilant than normal.
“Yeah, well we monitor everything every day. We don’t just do it when there’s a problem or something comes up somewhere else,” Belichick said. “We do it on a daily basis and make everyone — because this is everybody, it’s not just players, it’s players and coaches and staff and everybody else — make everyone aware of what … if we’re not doing something, or if we can do something better, then we talk to them about how we can do it better. So we try to monitor it the best we can. And we, I think, are pretty vigilant with — really all of us, it’s not any one person, but just all of us — keeping an eye on things that if anybody sees something that’s not the way we talked about it or maybe something that’s a little off or that we need to take a better look at, then we do that.”
The Patriots have not had any positive tests since training camp began, yet Belichick stressed that in a situation as unique as this one, things constantly change. And the fact that another team got hit with a string of positive cases does serve as a reinforcement that following all of the protocols is necessary and adapting to changing situations remains key.
“We’ve had that situation come up multiple times as things have changed, as we went through the different phases of training camp, as we got into the regular season schedule, then we traveled. And so, there have been a variety of changes in our scheduling or in the way we’re located or where or how we’re doing things that have necessitated some type of modification or adjustment,” Belichick said. “And so, we continue to monitor that and do that. But yeah, it’s a very, obviously, you know, a good reminder for all of us in the situation that we’re in. And regardless of what we have or haven’t done up to this point, it really is about what we do each day going forward, making the right decisions and controlling what we can control. So we’ll try to continue to do that.”