Report: Saints facing biggest punishment yet for third breach of COVID-19 rules

A third violation of the NFL’s COVID-19 safety precautions may prove costly for the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints are facing discipline after once again running afoul of the league’s rules, which could result in penalties even bigger than the $500,000 in fines and loss of a draft pick for their last offense, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

In this case, the violation concerns running back Alvin Kamara, who was placed on the COVID-19 list ahead of Week 17 in the regular season after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kamara’s infection reportedly came after an interaction at a Saints facility with a person not employed by the team, who ended up testing positive for the virus as well.

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The violation was reportedly captured on surveillance video that has since been obtained by the NFL.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13: New Orleans Saints Running Back Alvin Kamara (41) leaves the field after the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Alvin Kamara's interaction with a non-employee could prove costly for the Saints. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

According to The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan, the Saints don’t believe the interaction is what caused Kamara to contract the virus, but the mere presence of the person was a direct violation of the NFL’s rules for who is allowed into team facilities.

Another reported issue came from Kamara himself, as the running back reportedly refused to wear the NFL’s mandated contact tracing device all season. That made contact tracing with Kamara difficult after he tested positive, and the end result was every running back on the Saints’ active roster ending up on the reserve/COVID-19 list.


Saints paid hefty price for previous violations

The Saints have already been twice hit with significant discipline for COVID-19 violations. The first penalties came after Week 2, when the NFL fined the team $250,000 and head coach Sean Payton $100,000 personally after Payton was repeatedly seen without a face covering on the sidelines during a game.

The second offense was in November. In that case, Payton and Saints players were captured on video dancing maskless in the locker room following a Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For that violation, the Saints were fined $500,000 and stripped of a seventh-round draft pick.

The Saints’ discipline for third offense is reportedly not finalized, and could be lessened if the team fines violators itself. For now, a larger fine and the loss of multiple and/or higher draft picks is reportedly on the table.


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