The Patriots are already opening Gillette Stadium after Friday’s positive COVID-19 test.
Players around the NFL who chose to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the ongoing pandemic, whose long feared second wave currently appears to be sweeping the nation, look increasingly justified for doing so with each passing week.
To say the league has gotten lucky with false positives and subsequent negative tests following team outbreaks is an understatement, and the New England Patriots fall right under that description.
Two weeks ago, the Patriots were bizarrely rushed into their matchup with the Chiefs just two days after quarterback Cam Newton contracted COVID-19, putting everybody involved on both teams at risk.
Flash forward to Saturday, approximately 24 hours after offensive lineman James Ferentz tested positive, and the league gave New England the green light to reopen its facilities. Much like all of the NFL’s on-the-fly decisions over the last few weeks, this feels like yet another terrible idea.
Putting all concerns of COVID-19 aside, the Patriots reopening Gillette Stadium and the rest of their facilities makes sense as they only got one practice in this week. Keeping everything virtual 48 hours before gameday runs the risk of not being ready for Sunday.
See the problem? The NFL continues to prove it has learned nothing from refusing to play Patriots-Chiefs no later than Tuesday of that week. Getting games in on time is clearly the top priority over the health and safety of team members, and we’re running out of words to describe how irresponsible and reckless that is.
Want to know what’s even more alarming? The fact that league protocols would have permitted the Patriots to practice, albeit with players wearing masks, on Friday…right after they announced a positive test, simply because they were aware of it the night before. Thankfully, however, head coach Bill Belichick stepped in and canceled practice due to an abundance of caution.
Let’s keep in mind that Ferentz was a FULL participant in practice on Thursday, so the list of teammates he was in close proximity to is endless. Given COVID-19’s unpredictable incubation period, fans shouldn’t be surprised if more Patriots players test positive after Sunday’s game against Denver.
The fact that the NFL is fine with that potentially becoming a reality is just malpractice.