Calling Audibles – The NFL Forced to Do the COVID Shuffle on Scheduling

NFL official, field judge Nathan Jones (42) is seen in action as he wears a face mask with the nfl shield for protection from the coronavirus during an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Houston Texans, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

The NFL is doing its best to avoid missing any games, but it’s getting more difficult with multiple positive COVID-19 tests. In the last 24 hours, the league has moved the Tennessee Titans game against the Buffalo Bills from Sunday to Tuesday. The New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos game has been moved from Sunday to Monday. The Bills and Kansas City Chiefs game for next week have been moved from Thursday night to Sunday. Got all that? Good, because more changes could be coming.

The New York Jets were at their facility on Friday, preparing for their game against the Arizona Cardinals, when they received word that one of their players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Jets immediately sent all players and coaches home and closed down the facility. The player who tested positive has been retested, and the Jets, the Cardinals and the NFL are all waiting for those results as they prepare for their game, currently scheduled for Sunday.

The Tennessee Titans are currently in the midst of the worst NFL COVID-19 outbreak, with 23 players and staff testing positive for the virus in the last three weeks. The New England Patriots have had two positive tests in the past seven days, and the Las Vegas Raiders have one confirmed case.

On Wednesday the league addressed the 26 confirmed cases that have popped up in the last couple of weeks. “We have said all along that we expect positive cases,” NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said. “As long as the virus is endemic in our communities, we will see new cases among our teams. Risk mitigation, not elimination, is the key. Our protocols are designed to quickly identify new cases, get individuals the care they need and prevent further spread of the virus.”

NFL players are tested daily during the season, except for game days. Players are tested the day before the game, and if they receive an inconclusive result, they are given the chance to take another test on game day. If the second test returns a negative result within two hours before kickoff, the player can play.

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