In a widely expected move the NFL suspends this weeks Steelers Titans matchup after experiencing it’s first in-season positive tests for Covid-19. An announcement about the game is now expected to take place either Monday or Tuesday next week.
*UPDATE: The game has been suspended until later in the season. The Steelers and Titans will now use Week 4 as their bye week.
Slated for the 1pm EST time slot in Nashville, the games features a matchup between two of the NFL’s remaining unbeaten teams and a potential post-season preview. The Titans have got off to a relatively slow start, despite being undefeated, with a net points differential of +6.
The Steelers have also not exactly set the world on fire with a points differential of +22. Both teams have scored 80 points on offence with the Steelers defense being the stiffer.
NFL suspends game following Titan’s positives
The move cam just days after the NFL suspends all in-person activities for the Titans, and last weeks opponent Minnesota Vikings, after 3 Titans players and 5 staff tested positive after their game last Sunday. A further Titans player had tested positive on Tuesday.
Questions will be asked about the reliability of the testing, given that all players and team personnel will have passed the same tests prior to kickoff. Testing positive mere hours later brings into question a large portion of the validity of the overall effectiveness of the testing regime.
The four Titan’s players who have tested positive are long snapper Beau Brinkley, nose tackle DaQuan Hones, tight end Tommy Hudson, and linebacker Kamalei Correa. All bar Hudson have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Hudson is on the Titans practice squad.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to team executives outlining the steps the league was taking:
- Players and staff who have tested positive will be isolated, monitored and given all necessary medial care.
- Contact tracing data has been reviewed to identify any close contacts of players and staff who have tested positive. Those individuals have been isolated and will receive additional testing.
- Game officials who worked Sunday’s Titans-Vikings game have been contacted for followup testing and monitoring.
- In-person activities for the Titans and Vikings have been suspended pending further developments.
- The league is exploring the nature of the close contacts to determine where they occurred to identify any additional findings that can be shared with all 32 teams.
The NFL will be wary of the situation after a similar outbreak in MLB earlier in the year threatened to derail the season as multiple games, for multiple teams ended up being postponed after an outbreak in the Miami Marlins locker room. The mere fact the NFL suspends a regular season game, even if for only a few days is a worrying sign.