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The Hoarse, Mucousy, Ashen-Faced Texans Do Not Have COVID-19

JJ Watt of the Texans rubs his eyes.
Photo: Frederick Breedon/Getty

Here’s some good news for the New England Patriots, who are set to face the Texans in Houston in Week 11: The shivering, phlegmy, feverish players and coaches across from them Sunday are not—I repeat, ARE NOT—sick with COVID-19. Instead, they have the flu. Whew!

Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning—a curiously long time after the fact—that the Texans were “alarmed” earlier this week when flu-like symptoms “swept through” the organization, leading to fears of another outbreak, amid the larger, NFL-wide outbreak, of the coronavirus. Testing appears to have allayed that concern, although the practices missed due to illness will ultimately prevent Laremy Tunsil from participating against the Patriots. Two assistant coaches who were sick have apparently recovered in time to return to the sidelines, according to Schefter.

(The Texans, who for sure have a good grip on how infectious diseases work, reportedly attributed this flu bug to the crummy weather conditions of their Week 10 loss to the Browns in Cleveland. You do not catch the flu from cold weather!)

It makes sense to remain skeptical of testing information coming out of the NFL, and especially testing information that comes via certain NFL water-carriers, and especially testing information coming via certain NFL water-carriers that arrives Sunday morning. In this case, that the Texans are holding Tunsil, easily their second-best offensive player after DeShaun Watson, out of action in an important game probably indicates that things are more-or-less on the level—if you’re going to bullshit about COVID-19 infections, surely your goal would be to preserve the availability of the guy who protects your Pro-Bowl quarterback’s blind side. Then again, these are the Texans we’re talking about. Either way, do not let any of the addled, ashen-faced Texans sneeze onto your face today. They may not have COVID-19, but you also do not want the flu!