- The Titans have been the NFL team hardest hit by positive COVID-19 tests.
- Since late September, the Titans have had around two dozen players and staff members test positive for the coronavirus.
- The Titans facility had just reopened on Saturday.
The Tennessee Titans have shut down their facility once again after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday morning. The facility had just been reopened on Saturday and the spin around the league was that the situation had turned a corner in Nashville. As of the kickoff time for Sunday’s early games no decision has been made about the status of Tuesday’s game between Tennessee and the Buffalo Bills. The expectation is that something will be known by late Sunday.
The Titans by far have had the most positive COVID-19 tests of any NFL team. They are under investigation by the league for possible violations of virus mitigation protocol and are facing some potentially serious penalties depending on what NFL investigators find out. It appears that the virus first entered the Titans’ facility when newly signed practice squad defensive back Greg Mabin joined the team. He would test positive for COVID-19 two days later and the concern is that he did not receive proper medical vetting at the time of his signing. There are also questions about the way the team dealt with the positive test of outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen based on his contact tracing information.
CBS Sports quoted a ‘source with knowledge of the situation’ that affirmed the severity of the league’s investigation:
“Make no mistake, this is not an inquiry — it’s an investigation. Was this preventable? Was this manageable? That’s where this is going. It would be fair to say there are some troubling signs on a multitude of levels … The violations aren’t just happening there — just look at what you see on team feeds on social media — but there is obviously heightened concern about this situation.”
Despite the assurances of head coach Mike Vrabel that all NFL protocols and regulations had been followed another ‘unnamed source’ quoted by CBS Sports begged to differ:
“Their building is on fire. Were they doing everything possible to put it out?”
Fox17 TV in Nashville is reporting that the team and league were in consultation early Sunday about ‘next steps’. The tone of their report suggests that any more positive tests would result in the postponement of Tuesday’s game against Buffalo. ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that aside from one positive test in Nashville and one in New England every other test conducted by NFL teams on Sunday morning came back negative:
The penalties the NFL could assess for protocol violation are extremely severe and include forfeiture of games without pay. This would come into play for ‘egregious’ and repeated violations. Given the allegations of how Tennessee has dealt with their COVID-19 outbreak they might not be out of the woods on this.