On Sunday we learned that the NFL and NFLPA were investigating the Tennessee Titans for “failure to follow” COVID-19 protocols.
According to Tom Pelissero, reporter for NFL Network and NFL.com, the league and the player’s association are also investigating whether Titans players worked out together while the team’s facility was closed as a result of their COVID-19 outbreak.
Paul Kuharsky’s Report, Photos
Building on that news, Paul Kuharsky of 104.5 The Zone (Nashville), reports that the Titans appear to have violated COVID-19 protocols when some players gathered last week to work out a private school in Nashville.
“A group of Titans worked out at Montgomery Bell Academy on Sept. 30 despite an NFL directive not to hold such get-togethers while team headquarters was closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak, according to sources who saw players there,” writes Kuharsky on his web site.
Kuharsky’s post includes three photos—all taken from a distance—that show a group of adult players on Montgomery Bell’s football field. (Montgomery Bell Academy is a prep school for boys in Nashville.)
Kuharsky takes care to emphasize that the photos are “not definitive but offer a long-distance glimpse of what one person saw from long-range.” He also notes that his report relies on what he has been told by sources, not just the visual evidence.
“Such a gathering is likely to lead to fines and could cost the Titans a draft pick or draft position as penalties,” adds Kuharsky.
It seems unlikely that the Titans might have to forfeit a game as a result of past violations, as the league first mentioned the possibility of forfeits on October 5. But future violations that affect other teams or lead to the postponement of games could theoretically lead to forfeited games.
Titans’ COVID-19 Outbreak
Tennessee’s facility was closed on Sept. 29 in the wake of the club’s COVID-19 outbreak. The team originally planned to re-open its facility on Wednesday (after two straight days with zero positive COVID-19 tests), but another Titans player tested positive on Wednesday. The yet-to-be identified player is the tenth player on the Titans to test positive in the last two weeks. (The latest version of Tennessee’s COVID-19 Reserve list can be found here).
As a result of the new positive test, the Titans are not practicing on Wednesday and their facility remains closed. In turn, Tennessee’s next scheduled game—at home against the Bills on Sunday October 11—is very much in jeopardy, especially since the Bills game cannot be postponed a day or two, not with Buffalo scheduled to play again on Thursday October 15 versus the Kansas City Chiefs.
The NFL’s Investigation of the Titans, Patriots
Meanwhile, the NFL and NFLPA continue to pursue their existing ongoing investigation of the Titans. As Paul Kuharsky reminds us in his above-referenced post: Potential violations of mask usage and inconsistent use of tracking devices at Tennessee’s facility are at issue; the league is also looking at the possibility that Titans players may have failed to report symptoms and that linebackers coach Shane Bowen may have failed to report contact with an individual with COVID-19.
The Titans aren’t the only NFL team that has had players test positive for COVID-19 in recent days. For one, the New England Patriots have attracted notice in the wake of positive tests for quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, not to mention practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray.
On Wednesday the NFL’s chief medical officer revealed that the league has conducted interviews and reviewed video evidence pertaining to the ongoing investigation of the Titans, this according to Pelissero.
Dr. Allen Sills also said a “similar review” will happen with the Patriots, not just for the purposes of determining compliance but to learn how the league can improve its COVID-19 protocols.
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