The Tennessee Titans, smack dab in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak that required them to do things like “shut down their practice facility,” “hold no organized workouts,” and “for the love of god, don’t go near each other, don’t any of you understand how infection diseases work? It’s right there in the name,” appear to have held group workouts last week, according to a report (with photos!) by Paul Kuharsky.
The Titans, with 19 players and coaches having tested positive for COVID—most of them after these clandestine workouts—were already in trouble. The NFL is investigating the team for improper mask usage, and, according to media reports, players may have failed to report symptoms and contact with infected people. The league is not going to be thrilled with the news of these workouts, especially since it had to reshuffle multiple teams’ schedules to push Steelers-Titans back three weeks. And now, with two more positive tests popping up in Nashville today, Bills-Titans is no guarantee to be played this coming weekend, either.
Pro Football Talk quotes an NFL source who thinks the punishment for the Titans could be “historic,” and while my first instinct was to treat that as hyperbole from a league office that loves to talk tough, I’m no longer so sure it’s just talk. If this Titans outbreak is still raging and makes the team’s Week 5 game unplayable, will the NFL really want to—or be able to—accommodate another postponement, with the resultant ripple effects on the schedule screwing over other teams? Or might it just consider making the Titans forfeit games until they can get their shit together? There has never been a forfeit in NFL history, but these are strange times. And if one team is threatening the other owners’ bottom lines, they’re not likely to be particularly patient, or forgiving.
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