The first COVID-19 hurdle for the NFL comes just three weeks into the season.
As first reported by ESPN, eight members of the Tennessee Titans organization; three players and five staff members, have tested positive for the coronavirus. In response to the tests, the Titans have closed their team facilities for the remainder of the week and can return as early as Saturday.
The Titans will not be allowed in their building until Saturday. Everything will be done remotely.— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) September 29, 2020
This is going to be a big challenge for the organization and the league.
Since the Titans just played the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Minnesota, the Vikings have also cancelled in-person work and closed their facilities until further notice. There have been no positive tests from the Vikings’ organization.
According to ESPN insider Dianna Russini, Titans’ OLB coach Shane Bowen tested positive before Sunday’s game and didn’t travel with the team, but there were no positive tests that came along with it. After tests came back after the game on Monday, three players came back positive along with four other coaches. All eight team members are also asymptomatic.
For the players that tested positive, these are the rules in regards to when they can return:
Players who test positive for COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic can return 10 days after the test or after five days with two consecutive negative tests within a five-day period. Those who show symptoms can return 10 days after the symptoms first appear and 72 hours have passed since any symptoms have ended.
All players who test positive must be cleared by the team’s physician and undergo cardiac testing.
If the Titans can’t prepare for their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s entirely possible that the NFL steps in and declares both teams to have their bye weeks now. This would require changing the schedules around a bit later in the year, but it’s possible to work around.
The Cincinnati Bengals are scheduled to play in front of fans for the first time this season as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday.