The Patriots’ travel plan to Kansas City proves they aren’t confident in the players’ safety ahead of postponed Week 4 matchup.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton testing positive for the coronavirus has engulfed the NFL news cycle over the last 24 hours. However, after initial fears about their Sunday game against Kansas City being postponed until a later date, the league has pivoted to moving it back just one day.
As of this writing, the Patriots and Chiefs will kick off from Arrowhead at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday night. Using just one day’s worth of negative tests from both teams to legitimize this game being played essentially as scheduled is certifiably insane, and proves the NFL won’t enter panic mode unless a string of players test positive.
The reports suggest both the Patriots and Chiefs preferred to play the game on Monday, but it really remains to be seen if they had a choice in the matter. And the former’s travel plan proves that head coach Bill Belichick’s side is anything but confident in their safety.
According to Pro Football Talk, the Patriots are taking two planes to KC, and seats will be assigned based on who came in contract with Newton prior to his bombshell diagnosis.
"“Separating the team based on those who did and didn’t have close contact with Cam underscores the reality that the incubation period could still be accounting one or more of the negative tests, and that one or more people who had close contact with Cam may still test positive, eventually,” wrote Mike Florio of PFT."
Per the report, one plane will carry approximately 20 players who were in close proximity to Newton and the other charter will carry the rest of the Patriots team, including players and coaching staff members. This is likely just precautionary, but the NFL putting its organizations through the ringer because it opted against implementing a proper contingency plan for potential outbreaks is an awful look.
The Patriots executed a similar approach last season when the flu decimated their roster, leaving over 15 players questionable for their Week 14 tilt against Houston, but this is an entirely different animal we’re talking about here. Given the contagious nature of the virus — and the fact that the NFL isn’t in a bubble — multiple teams enduring outbreaks in the wake of just a handful of positive tests is very much in the realm of possibility.
The bottom line is that the Patriots are wholly justified in being concerned about their safety leading up to Monday night’s game. Let’s keep in mind that several players on the team who came in close contact with Newton could still test positive in the coming days.
Could the NFL get lucky (per usual) and have nothing go wrong between now and kickoff? Absolutely, but that doesn’t come close to rationalizing this game being played 48 hours after a player, who was huddling with his teammates at practice all week, contracted the virus.
If the Patriots are nervous enough to have a Contagion Plane, that should show you things aren’t hunky dory.