Tennessee Titans experience COVID-19 outbreak, game with Steelers postponed


A.J. Guel (Flickr)

The Tennessee Titans/Pittsburgh Steelers game is the first NFL game to be postponed because of coronavirus concerns

Jackson Dungan, Reporter

Several weeks of no positive COVID-19 tests in the NFL had fans hopeful that a season with no interruptions was possible. However, just three weeks in, a wave of positive tests caused a delay for two teams, so far, in week four of the season.

The Tennessee Titans are at risk of an extensive outbreak.  Their Sunday matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed after five players and three staff members tested positive for the virus following their game with the Minnesota Vikings.  Another player tested positive on Tuesday, followed by an additional athlete on Thursday.  Another facility member wound up testing positive as well, totaling 11 total members of the organization.

The team released a statement after the initial weekend tests came back positive.

“Out of abundance of caution, the organization has decided to work remotely today as we follow NFL protocols related to the COVID-19 virus. Several tests have come back positive and (we) are working through the process of confirming them.”

Discussions within the NFL had taken place about a possible reschedule date for the game as early as Oct. 5 or 6. However, as of Thursday morning, the NFL announced that the game would be postponed until a date to be determined later in the season.

Titans officials have informed their players that they are required to stay physically prepared for the matchup regardless of whether or not they can meet as a group.

The Minnesota Vikings have had to enter COVID-19 protocols of their own by suspending all team activities until test results come back. According to the NFL, 48 members of the Vikings were in close contact with the nine Titan players who tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are no plans to suspend the week-four matchup between the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings and the 0-3 Houston Texans. Which might be good news for some fantasy owners.

To further prevent any further game suspensions due to positive tests, the NFL is enforcing rigorous rules to keep teams in line with COVID protocols.  Through the first three weeks of the season the NFL has levied over $1 million in COVID-19 protocol related fines.  The league seemed to make a statement by fining head coaches Jon Gruden, Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan, and Pete Carrol $100,000 each for non-compliance of wearing facial coverings while on the sidelines in week two.

NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent promised even harsher penalties moving forward for teams and personnel who are not in compliance with league protocols or government directives.

“Inconsistent adherence to health and safety protocols, such as wearing face coverings and observing physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk,” Vincent wrote in a statement.  “We will continue to address lack of compliance with accountability measures that may also include suspensions of persons involved, and/or the forfeiture of a draft choice(s).”