NFL

COVID-19 Is About to Cause the First Canceled Game of the 2020 NFL Season

Through the first three weeks of the 2020 NFL season, the league couldn’t have asked for a better start in the new normal of COVID-19.

Only one player, Falcons’ A.J. Terrell, had tested positive for the virus, and every game was played on schedule. Well, that might be changing soon. On Tuesday morning, the Tennessee Titans announced three players and five personnel members tested positive for COVID-19 after their Week 3 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams will halt team activities for the time being, which might lead to the first canceled game of the 2020 NFL season.

There was only one positive COVID-19 test through three weeks of the NFL season

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Many were skeptical about how NFL teams could travel from city to city without a player, coach, or personnel member contracting the Coronavirus. The NBA and NHL had great success with their return-to-play plans, but both leagues operated in a tight bubble closed off from the public.

The NFL, however, continued like normal to start their season. Some teams have even been allowed to host fans at their home games.

Through three weeks, Falcons CB A.J. Terrell was the only player or coach to test positive for COVID-19. He was placed on the COVID list Saturday and didn’t play in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. No other Falcons tested positive, so the game was played anyway.

The Tennessee Titans report the first widespread COVID-19 tests

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The NFL can handle one positive test here and there, but an outbreak inside any locker room could derail the season. On Tuesday, the Titans announced three players and five personnel members tested positive for COVID-19.

Tennessee has suspended all in-person activities and shut down the team facility until Saturday. The Vikings, who played the Titans this past Sunday, have done the same.

“Out of the abundance of caution, the organization has decided to work remotely today as we follow NFL protocols related to the COVID-19 virus,” the Titans said in a statement. “Several tests have come back positive and [we] are working through the process of confirming them. We will have more information tomorrow.”

The NFL even chimed in on the bad news.

“Both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the [NFL Players Association], including our infectious disease experts, to evaluate close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments,” Goodell said in a statement. “All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available.”

Could COVID-19 cause the first canceled NFL game of 2020?

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When the first MLB outbreak hit the Miami Marlins, both they and the Philadelphia Phillies went over a week without playing a game. Leagues just can’t risk exposing multiple teams to the virus, so they’re going to err on the side of caution.

The Titans are scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. If more positive tests show up throughout the week, that matchup is likely to be postponed.

The Titans won’t even be able to practice until the day before the game, so they’d be at a massive disadvantage either way. As for the Vikings, they have reported no positive tests. Minnesota will take the same steps Tennessee will leading up to their game against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

If there are no more positive tests this week, all games could be played as scheduled, but that’s a big if. Cross your fingers, NFL fans.