The NFL huffed and puffed last week. The question now becomes whether the league office will blow up anyone’s wallets.
Although Thursday night’s game between the Bengals and Browns showed a “night and day” difference regarding compliance with the coaching mask mandate, the early Sunday games have plenty of images of plenty of coaches not doing what the league has told them to do.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has a neck gaitor that seems to be always down around his neck, not on his face. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was seen at one point with his mask hanging down.
Other coaches, like Colts coach Frank Reich and Dolphins coach Brian Flores, had their masks over their mouths but not over their noses. Bills coach Sean McDermott’s face also has been exposed over his covering. Rams coach Sean McVay, who has vowed to do better this week, continues to pull own his mask when communicating with others.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who rately had his face covereed on Monday night, doesn’t have his face covered late in the second quarter of Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.
Regardless of whether you believe in masks (you should), the NFL does. And the NFL’s memo made it clear to all coaches and sideline personnel that compliance is expected.
“[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent wrote on Monday to all teams. “Becoming careless or ignoring face covering and physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk.”
The memo also pointed out that the protocol “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,” Vincent warned. “Wearing a mask does not mean using it as a chin strap or hanging it from one’s neck. 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.”
Via Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Vincent reiterated the message on Sunday morning.
“If we adhere to the guidelines, we play ball,” Vincent told La Canfora. “The guidelines save lives. We must follow them. Accountability to follow, fines and other punishments forthcoming. The warnings are over.”
If that’s true, the fines and other punishments definitely will be coming.