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NFL threatens 'accountability measures' if masks are worn incorrectly on sidelines

Liz Roscher
·3 min read
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The NFL managed a successful first week during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the league doesn’t want anyone to relax or take it easy with its safety measures.

The NFL reminded every team of that Monday, when executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent out a memo regarding the joint NFL-NFLPA safety protocols. The memo was a general reminder, but it focused on one specific point: the proper wearing of face masks on the sidelines.

Wear masks correctly or face ‘accountability measures’

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted part of the memo, which threatened “accountability measures” if masks weren’t worn properly by sideline staff at all times:

The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times

Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs.

The face covering must be worn as designed so that it securely fits across the wearer’s nose and mouth to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Masks need to completely cover the nose and mouth, and there were plenty of examples of incorrect mask wearing during Sunday’s games.

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton were often seen with their masks pulled down. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was seen numerous times with his face covering completely off and serving as a neck warmer. At one point, nearly the entire sideline staff of the Miami Dolphins were wearing their face masks incorrectly.

Brian Flores and members of his sideline staff wearing their face masks incorrectly.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and several members of his sideline staff were just a few examples of NFL coaches and assistants wearing their masks wrong during Week 1. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: Detroit Lions head football coach Matt Patricia watches the action during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on September 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago defeated Detroit 27-23. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: Detroit Lions head football coach Matt Patricia watches the action during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on September 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago defeated Detroit 27-23. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - SEPTEMBER 13: head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints  looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - SEPTEMBER 13: head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

That’s a small sampling. Numerous coaches, assistants, and coordinators had their masks below their noses or around their necks for some portion of their Week 1 games. That’s the type of incorrect mask usage that could spark a COVID-19 outbreak, which the NFL desperately wants to avoid.

In parts of the memo that Pelissero reported, the “accountability measures” weren’t explained, so it’s unclear what consequences there could be if teams don’t get everyone on the same mask-wearing page.

No one wants to be disciplined by the NFL for something as easily fixable as wearing a mask wrong.

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