LAKE FOREST – For the most part, the National Football League and theirs have done about as well as they could when it comes to preventing COVID-19 outbreaks with their teams.
Before this weekend, there were no players put on the virus’ reserve list due to contracting it or being in contact with someone who has it. No major outbreaks had occurred with a team as of yet and the schedule has played out as expected through three weeks.
But this weekend came the first problems as Falcons cornerback AJ Terrell became the first to go on the COVID-19 list in the regular season. Then came the news on Monday that had been feared since training began in late July.
Three Titans’ players tested positive for COVID-19 early this week along with five other staff members. Team facilities were close on Tuesday and it was the same for their opponent this past weekend, the Minnesota Vikings.
As of now, Tennessee’s home game with the Steelers is still on as is Minnesota’s contest with the Texans in Houston, but that could change depending on what further testing shows.
Having this happen is obviously something the league and the players feared could happen as the pandemic continues across the United States. Naturally, a few players that spoke in news conferences on Tuesday at Halas Hall were quick to share their perspective.
For most of the players, they key is simply to stay diligent as they have over the past two months.
“We put our faith in the NFL’s hands and the organization’s hands to keep us safe. For me, that’s still where I stand,” said wide receiver Allen Robinson. “Again, continue to practice our safe measures as far as social distancing, wearing the mask, staying hands sanitized, stuff like that.
“At the end of the day, we would have been remiss to not think that something like this would come up. But now that it’s come up, we’ll see what actions are taken and put in place after this.”
This could very well have been the situation the Bears could have ended up in considering their close call with a player on the COVID-19 list. If more Falcons’ players had tested positive, most likely Sunday’s game would have been postponed, or if Terrell had played, there was a chance for possible infection.
Having the Tennessee situation come up today brings COVID-19 concerns even more to the forefront, with players trying to be even more cautious as they start work in Week 4.
“Yeah, that’s concerning, obviously it’s concerning, man, just as a league in general, I think we’ve been doing a stellar job the first three weeks so for this to happen now, it’s a bit concerning,” said safety Tashaun Gipson. “But at the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that the NFL will act swiftly and kinda control it, and hopefully they can. But like I said, we can only control the things in Chicago and I know that wearing masks and taking the necessary steps and precautions here, we’ve been doing them.
“So hopefully every team can do that so we can continue to play the game that we love, obviously. These types of times, it’s never good, but I have the utmost confidence that the NFL will be able to handle it.”
In order to keep playing football, that’s what they’ll have to do.
See more on the Bears on Chicago Football Weekly with Jarrett Payton and Lauren Magiera on Saturday nights during the season at 6 PM on WGN-TV.