Kelly Stafford blames NFL for 'nightmare' 4 days after Matthew Stafford had false positive for COVID-19

Frank Schwab
·2 min read

For Kelly Stafford, the thought that husband Matthew had COVID-19 was just part of a “nightmare” four days.

Matthew Stafford, the Detroit Lions’ starting quarterback, went on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. He might have been the most high-profile player to date to go on the list. As a result, everyone assumed Stafford had been exposed.

The relief of finding out Stafford had a false positive and was taken off the list was overshadowed by the poor treatment Kelly Stafford says she and her family endured for a few days. And she blamed the NFL for it.

Kelly Stafford: ‘nightmare’ 4 days

Stafford said her kids were harassed and she was told she was “endangering others” when she went to the grocery store, among other issues.

She detailed the four days in an Instagram post, saying it was “somewhat of a nightmare.” And she said the NFL was at fault, saying it was irresponsible to release “that info to the world” before being certain of a positive test.

The NFL specifies that teams may not disclose if a player is in quarantine or tests positive for COVID-19 if they’re put on the reserve list, but it’s not hard to draw conclusions. Even when they end up being wrong.

Kelly Stafford smiles as she sits next to Matthew Stafford.
Kelly Stafford was not happy news of Matthew Stafford's false positive test for COVID-19 went public. (Duane Burleson/AP)

NFL has reserve/COVID-19 list

Here’s the disclaimer from the Minnesota Vikings’ announcement earlier this month that rookie receiver Justin Jefferson was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list:

This new reserve list category was created for a player who either tests positive for COVID-19 or who has been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons. If a player falls into either of these categories, their club is required to immediately place the player on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Per agreed upon NFL-NFLPA policy, clubs are not permitted to comment on player's medical status other than referring to roster status. Clubs may not disclose whether player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.

As Kelly Stafford points out, people who see that players are put on the reserve/COVID-19 list will assume they’ve been exposed to the virus. The league’s language on its policy won’t stop that. The NFL is used to putting out an injury report on players, which sometimes includes illnesses, but this is a different issue.

The NFL will have to figure out the line between releasing information on players and their status for games, while not violating a player’s privacy. Kelly Stafford would advise the league to be more careful than it was with her husband’s status.

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