The NFL is experiencing its first schedule adjustment due to COVID-19 in Week 4, as the league Wednesday announced Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans in Nashville is being postponed to either Monday or Tuesday after multiple coronavirus cases surfaced in Tennessee’s organization.
According to multiple reports, four Titans players and five personnel members have tested positive for COVID-19, and the team has closed its facility until Saturday. Outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, a former Raven, on Wednesday became the fourth player in the past two days to be added to the Titans' reserve/COVID-19 list, which was created for players who either test positive for COVID-19 or who have been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person. The Minnesota Vikings, who played Tennessee in Week 3, have reportedly not had any positive tests.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Wednesday sympathized with the situation, calling playing the season during a pandemic a “big challenge.”
“I think the NFL and the players and the coaches and the fans and the media, we’ve all made a commitment to try to go ahead and live our lives as much as we can by playing football and having this as part of our lives,” Harbaugh said on a video conference call.
“We’re doing our best. … A breakout can happen at any time, it can happen at any moment. So be as vigilant as we can, do the best we can, respect one another as much as we can. … And then respond when something does happen, which I’m sure the NFL and the Titans will do. Just know that, hey, the next team could be us, so let’s do the best we can to hope it doesn’t happen. And if it does happen, we’ll try to work through it as best as we can.”
The NFL has levied fines to head coaches and teams for not wearing masks thoroughly while on the sidelines during games, which is mandated. According to an ESPN report, the NFL sent a “strongly worded memo” Wednesday to team executives, general managers and head coaches urging to remain in compliance with the mask-wearing protocol on game days. According to the report, future discipline could include “suspensions and/or forfeiture of draft picks.”
In front of a nationally televised audience Monday night, Harbaugh was seen with his mask lowered from his mouth as he yelled at an official over a questionable tripping penalty called on tight end Nick Boyle. When asked about the incident, Harbaugh said he had not heard from the league.
“We really try our best,” Harbaugh said. "I’d compare what we do here with the masks and all the protocols with anybody, not just in the National Football League, but anywhere in the world. We work really hard at it in the meetings. We do it on the practice field when I don’t even think we have to do it on the practice field and it makes communication really tough. We’re in our meetings with our masks on, trying to talk through our masks in our meetings. We do it on the sideline.
“We have been, for all three games, really good on the sidelines. I don’t think there’s anybody better than us — me or our staff — from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. You think in a three-hour heated, competitive environment, especially when you’re yelling, that your mask isn’t going to fall down or whatever for five or ten seconds, I think anybody couldn’t be held to that standard. That would be a little hard for anybody to hold on to.”