The Tennessee Titans finally returned to practice after 11 days of coronavirus-induced limbo, with 23 members of the organization testing positive over time. A Week 4 game had to be postponed to Week 7, and their Week 5 game was one positive test away from a similar fate before eventually being moved to Tuesday.
The saga apparently resulted in some disillusionment among Titans players, as starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill explained Saturday:
“We said from the beginning that testing is not going to prevent the virus from being spread, it’s the way we handle ourselves with all the protocols and handle ourselves outside the building as well,” Tannehill reportedly said.
Considering what has been reported about Titans players amid the outbreak, that part rings especially true.
Titans facing punishment for illegal practices
The Titans’ flow of positive tests was not sudden. They did have as many as eight positive tests on Sept. 29, which forced them to shut down their facilities, but positive tests kept trickling out as late as Oct. 8.
Tannehill might have a point in the NFL’s testing being potentially flawed because the outbreak kept spreading, but that idea is severely undercut by the Titans’ own reported behavior as the virus hit their locker room.
Amid the outbreak, it emerged that Titans players, including Tannehill, had taken part in an informal workout at a local school on Sept. 30, a day after the Titans shut down their facility. The entire point of that shutdown was to prevent the spread of the virus, but the players still apparently decided to meet up. So it’s entirely possible the Titans’ shutdown was lengthened by their own hand.
The NFL clearly wasn’t amused by the Titans’ off-book workouts, as the team is now facing league discipline for safety protocol violations after a joint NFL and NFLPA investigation, according to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson. The incoming penalties are reportedly seen as “not a matter of if, but when and how severe.”
Given that the NFL has hit franchises with fines as large as $250,000 for their head coaches failing to properly wear masks, the discipline could be stiff.
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