NFLPA might recommend postponing Buccaneers-Eagles game after third Bucs player infected with MRSA

Eric Edholm

The NFL Players Association reportedly is waiting for a containment report on the outbreak of a staph infection that's plaguing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the union could recommend that the Bucs and Philadelphia Eagles postpone their game this weekend depending on the results, according to ESPN.

Is it likely Sunday's game will be postponed? Doubtful. NFL director of communications Greg Aiello told the Eagles-based Birds 24/7 website that no schedule changes are currently being planned, and the Eagles apparently are moving on as scheduled regularly.

"We are not planning anything that will affect the game," Aiello wrote. "Our office, the NFLPA, and appropriate medical specialists are working with the Bucs’ medical staff to aggressively address the matter."

The NFLPA issued a statement on the matter Friday afternoon from executive director DeMaurice Smith:

"We have been involved in an ongoing review of the MRSA incidents in Tampa Bay initiated by the concerns we had about the manner in which team officials responded to these cases.

"We advised the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that an outside expert should be brought in to assess the situation and we are pleased with their decision to take that recommendation. We have also been in regular contact with the player representatives from Tampa Bay. We will reach out to the Philadelphia Eagles player representatives today and provide them with our best medical guidance and regular updates from the outside experts.

"This underscores the need for a League-wide, comprehensive and standardized infectious disease protocol. It also calls for improved accountability measures on health and safety issues by the NFL over the clubs."

Buccaneers rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks has become the third member of the team this season to develop a serious skin infection known as MRSA. Although the team did not announce who the third player was, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport first reported the news.

We previously documented the trials of MRSA-stricken Buccaneers kicker Lawrence Tynes (and his angry wife), who resides on the non-football injury list, as well as guard Carl Nicks, whose infection just recently recurred.

Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano addressed the MRSA concerns on Friday.

According to the Center for Disease Control website (which remains partially active during the government shutdown), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.

Staph infections are prevalent at NFL facilities, and they have involved several franchises over the years, including big-name players such as Tom Brady and Kellen Winslow Jr. Outbreaks also have plagued several teams en masse, including the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams in the past decade.

Players with open wounds or cuts are more susceptible to obtaining the infections, especially if they share whirlpool therapy tubs with other infected players without having properly cleansed beforehand.

This is a serious and scary matter for the team and players, and even facilities that are thoroughly cleaned after an outbreak can be susceptible to further infection. Let's hope that the Buccaneers can treat the situation and that Banks will not miss a significant amount of time.

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