The NFL shouldn’t have ignored Patriots veterans Jason and Devin McCourty’s concerns about COVID-19 before the season.
In light of a mini coronavirus outbreak, the Patriots have had their last two regular season matchups postponed. In Week 4, their box office showdown with Kansas City was moved to Monday night after quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19.
Fast forward to this week and the Patriots’ schedule has been tinkered with twice in the wake of two more positive tests, with the latest coming on Sunday morning. After initially moving their game against Denver to Monday night, the NFL ultimately pushed it back until Week 6, so head coach Bill Belichick’s side is currently on their bye.
To say that it’s ridiculous that teams are suffering the consequences of the league’s maddening lack of preparation for potential outbreaks would be an understatement. Health experts warned us about a potential second wave hitting once temperatures dropped and the NFL still insisted on having teams travel across the country. That’s not to say playing in a bubble was realistic, but more safety precautions, like cutting travel in half to limit exposure, could have been implemented.
Well, if you’re wondering how players are feeling about the league scrambling to reshuffle schedules, they aren’t too thrilled. During a recent interview, Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty rightfully questioned if the NFL and players’ association care about player safety.
That powerful quote proves the NFL was foolish for ignoring the McCourty twins, who came dangerously close to opting out of 2020, before the season. The veteran duo came forward on numerous occasions prior to training camp to express their concerns with the league’s lack of planning to ensure the safety of players and coaching staffs.
Other than approving daily testing, commissioner Roger Goodell and the players’ association did nothing to prevent or contain a potential outbreak. Their dismal contingency plan, which apparently only includes shutting down practice facilities and rescheduling games, has somehow displayed a more glaring lack of urgency.
The incubation period of COVID-19 can take several days, so there was no way to know if other Patriots players were carrying the virus leading up to their game vs the Chiefs. After getting impossibly lucky with letting that game proceed, the NFL determined it was fine for New England to play Denver on Monday night despite having just one practice worth’s of preparation.
Taking the physicality of the sport into consideration, that was an incredibly risky decision by the league, which hasn’t put a foot right forward in recent weeks amid all of this COVID-19 controversy.
The MCourty twins tried to warn the NFL before the season about this very situation, so Jason was fully justified for putting the league and players’ association on blast after being proven right for previously doing so.