The Broncos confirmed Saturday night that every quarterback on their roster is ineligible to play against the Saints this afternoon. This is the inevitable result of the NFL’s season-long indifference to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and its commitment to pretending the league actually cares very much. Per reports from ESPN, quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for the virus on Thursday, and starter Drew Lock and backups Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were pulled from practice and sent home Saturday after contact tracing revealed they’d all been in a quarterbacks meeting room together without wearing masks.
Lindsay Jones of The Athletic reported that the quarterbacks “were not forthcoming in initial contact-tracing interviews about their exposure to Driskel … spent ‘substantial’ time together without wearing masks and failed to consistently wear their tracking devices.” Lock, Rypien and Bortles have since tested negative on rapid tests, but under NFL protocols, they’re considered “high-risk COVID-19 close contacts” who must enter a mandatory five-day quarantine.
This is quite the jam! The Broncos, in their desperation, have pursued some very sad solutions to no avail. The team asked the league whether one of their assistant coaches who’d played in college could play quarterback. (The NFL said no.) They also asked whether the game could simply be postponed. (The NFL said no.) The conspiracy-brained will raise an eyebrow at the league’s decision to delay today’s Ravens-Steelers game and not this one, but the outbreak the Ravens are dealing with is considerably more severe; 18 Baltimore players are on the COVID-19 reserve list. Denver’s situation is limited to one position group, and it is only an unfortunate coincidence that it happens to be the most important position.
The whole thing is bleakly funny, or maybe just bleak. There is an obvious solution to problems like Denver’s or Baltimore’s or San Francisco’s—ah, yeah, the Niners have been banned from playing at home by their county health department—and it is to stop playing football. So long as the public health consensus contradicts the mission of the NFL, chaos will abound.
The Broncos will have to manage with practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, an undrafted rookie who played quarterback at Wake Forest. Unless … would you want to do it? It would just be for a few hours and I think you’d be really good at it. Feel free to say no, obviously, but it would be great if you could play.