Should NFL abandon the mask rule for coaches?

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When the NFL developed its policy that coaches must cover their mouths and noses on the sidelines, the NFL planned eventually  to conduct COVID-19 testing on players and coaches three times per week. Now that the NFL is conducting, and likely will continue to conduct, COVID-19 testing on a daily basis, an important question needs to be considered.

Should coaches and other sideline personnel who are tested every day be exempt from the mask mandate?

The league office and several coaches currently are at odds over the rule and the application of it. Already, the NFL has fined three head coaches $100,000 each (Kyle Shanahan, Vic Fangio, and Pete Carroll) and their teams $250,000 each (the 49ers, Broncos, and Seahawks). Sean Payton and Jon Gruden, and the Saints and Raiders, will likely be next.

Other coaches weren’t consistently wearing masks, or were consistently failing to cover their noses while covering their mouths. They could also be fined. At a minimum, they surely will receive another warning.

As Simms and I discussed on Tuesday’s PFT Live, the owners ultimately have the power to change the rule. If they believe that the mask requirement represents a redundancy that isn’t necessary given the frequency of testing, they can vote to overturn it. If, as Simms argued, the mask makes it harder to call plays (or, more accurately, for others to hear the play calls), there’s a specific reason not to wear it. If coaches and players will continue to be tested on a daily basis, there’s a broader reason for coaches to not wear them at all.

To the extent the rule is driven by optics, it’s far better to not have the rule (and to attribute it to daily testing) than to have a rule that isn’t consistently followed.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the scrapping of the rule has yet to be discussed. Now that teams are having significant sums sucked out of their bank accounts, the topic needs to be addressed. Even if the league office doesn’t want to retreat, the owners run the league. If the owners decide to take a step back and ask the broader question of whether masks are needed in light of daily testing, the owners have the right to do it — and ultimately to decide that the masks simply aren’t needed.

110 responses to “Should NFL abandon the mask rule for coaches?

  1. Should NFL abandon the mask rule for coaches?

    Or should the NFL just abandon some coaches? I’d say Adam Gase and Matt Patricia head the short list, but there are probably others.

  2. Yes. It is for optics. Statistical chance of no mask during a game catching or spreading covid19 is likely minuscule.

  3. In addition to their daily testing, they’re spaced far apart along the sideline, and they’re outside.

    At some point, you have to be careful not to become a dummie on the left in response or resentment to the dummies on the right.

  4. The coaches are running up and down the sideline for most of the game and screaming at people 20 – 30 yards away. Add to that most of them are older or out of shape, or both. The mask limits their ability to breath and communicate. Do not get me wrong I am all for wearing the mask at the supermarket but in this case it doesn’t make sense.

  5. If only there were some sort of booth high above the field where the coaches who call plays could see everything and wouldn’t have the need to wear a mask.

  6. Considering medical , industrial , research and many other professions that mandates mask wearing communication isn’t an issue . Thinking this is all about the ego of coaches who aren’t used to being told what to do . Unless you are unfortunately afflicted with some type of hearing loss mask wearing doesn’t impact your ability to be heard .

  7. Yeah it seems pretty pointless to me, given the frequency of testing. Even more baffling was Russel Wilson choosing to mask when he was on the sideline. I have to assume that’s an optics thing too.

  8. Yes, they should get rid of the mask rule. It’s completely pointless. Does absolutely nothing at all.

  9. what are the testing protocol details? ron rivera was giving an interview and made it sound like the tests are temperature checks. He could have misspoke or that could have been in addition to actual tests. the nature of the testing is important.

    also worth noting that you get test results back 1 or 2 days after being tested, so knowing on sunday that you tested negative on saturday doesn’t mean that on sunday you’re not infected.

  10. It’s a pretty stupid rule. First, the chances of airborne transmission plummet outside. Second, they’re coming into physical contact with their players and other staff, so who are they trying to limit exposure to?

  11. They’ve been tested as frequently as the players- and none of the players are wearing masks (as a requirement). This is pure optics, folks. The players AND COACHES are perhaps some of the most tested individuals on the planet. If they’ve all tested negative, then a mask should just be optional. This is aside from the fact that most all masks do not prevent you from getting the virus anyway.

  12. They should absolutely abandon it. If all other measures are being taken, there is no need for masks.

  13. It makes sense to me. If everyone is negative and players aren’t wearing them, it’s just a ploy to give off good optics.

    If everyone was confirmed negative around me I shouldn’t need a mask.

  14. If the rule is only to appease the ignorant who believe the masks are still being worn behind the scenes, then yes, abandon the rule.

  15. During a game there’s a functional reason to not wear the mask. And the coaches, along with the players are being tested every day. But their families are not. Football teams aren’t in a “bubble”. Players & coaches go home every night and do ‘whatever”.
    There’s always a chance of someone getting it from an outside source and bringing it into the football environment.
    Yeah, the mask is inconvenient when trying to constantly communicate. They need to figure out a balance.

  16. Not just yes but HELL YES!!!!

    In fact, the NFL souls do something smart and have BOSE re design the Headset mic with A large snap on shield th shape of a football with a bigger nose logo ($$$) and the lip reading will stop!

    I told some PR folks this at a Vegas electronic show years ago and so far nothing which I’m sure is because the nfl is so limiting in product placement.

    Covid has changed this aspect and the clip on shield could be made by me next week! So I’m sure Bose could too.

  17. Dumbest thing I saw Sunday was coaches properly wearing their masks, but still covering their faces with their diner-menu play cards while they spoke into their headsets. As if we could see their lips move…

  18. Do they wear them as they walk into a restaurant and then shed them once they are seated? If they are truly testing daily and monitoring for signs and symptoms even more frequently….masks seem a bit redundant.

  19. Thank you on this one Mr. FLorio. Yes, please abandon the rule. Daily testing precludes the use of masks since a positive test mandates quarantine. We understand the use of masks but not in situations where everyone has been tested daily and would not be allowed near the field if positive.

  20. There’s a WAY more simple way of getting coaches to follow the rule. Forget the fines for coaches and teams. These are millionaires working for billionaires. Tax write-off. Instead, make the first infraction a 5-yard penalty, 2nd a 15-yard penalty, and 3rd is an ejection for the coach involved. It would take roughly 1 quarter to bring everyone in line. Yes there is testing, but people can test negative one day and positive the next. So as a protection for older and/or more vulnerable coaches, the mask rule makes total sense. And all this about not being heard through a mask? BS. You’ve got microphones which have plenty of sensitivity to overcome that.

  21. I trust public health on masks stopping the spread of covid-19 but if players and coaches are being tested multiple times a week and are on the field with others who are tested the same, you think common sense would prevail.

  22. It’s it weird to anyone else to see coaches and players on the same team and sideline wearing masks? Aren’t they around each other all week and travel together (I ask rhetorically)? It’s ok to sweat, spit, yell, and tackle other players without a mask but please wear one on the sideline so we can get average Joe to buy in. Oh, ok.

  23. Yes, get rid of the rule. If theyre under going testing and have the same rules to follow as players, there’s no reason they should be forced to wear a mask.

  24. It’s ridiculous and for optics only. Quit treating the country like we are all idiots. Only about 40% of them are.

  25. 1. The testing is being done well. So there is a reasonable assumption everyone on the field is covid-free.
    2. The players don’t need to wear them the coach and players are constantly around each other. And it the Locke room at half time. They are a cohort.
    3. You cannot properly speak or project your voice in a mask. I use the same headset at my job, it’s very hard to speak with the mask on. I go mask off when I’m on the headset, my colleagues stay mask on.

  26. Being tested everyday along with the players should preclude the coaches from needing to wear a mask during the game. However, the symbolism for the viewing audience is perhaps an over riding reason to have the coaches be masked during the game.

  27. Masks and social distancing are what protects the players and coaches. Testing gives the league a report card on how well they are doing.

    I’m guessing that the league will lift the mask requirements, until some players/coaches come down with COVID, then they will reverse course….just like what happened in most US cities when they relaxed requirements.

  28. Considering that the players are not wearing masks (for obvious reasons), it seems silly to require the coaches to do so. It should be up to each team how to handle. If the coaches want to wear masks, wear them. If they don’t want to, don’t.

  29. Masks are important for sure but isn’t everyone involved in these games tested and proven safe? NFL making back lost revenue in dirty ways smh.

  30. How about they ask public health experts. Then if they change the policy they can say “after consulting with leading public health experts…” If the health experts tell them to keep it up then they tell that to the teams. This seems like an easy one to solve.

  31. It just really depends. While the issue of equality has been from and center in 2020, it is obvious that some coaches simply better looking than others. In the interest of not offending the ugly, I am not going to name names, but some coaches should permanently be required to wear masks.

  32. Let the teams decide and live with their consequences. Maybe no one gets sick, maybe the whole team gets it. It will either be better or a hard lesson learned.

  33. It does seem to be a little unnecessary. The argument that it makes call playing more difficult though, is a stretch. The coaches have microphones and anyone who has worn a mask know that it’s not that difficult to talk. Especially when you have a device that magnifies your voice. The other thing is that it sets a poor example for those that really should be wearing a mask.

  34. No they should not abandon the mask rule. The NFL is acting as a platform for being a better person with its social justice initiatives. Why should they give into individual pressure to stop wearing face mask? With so many members of society fighting the same fight,it would be a bad example for the general public.

  35. The current policy makes zero sense. First off, masks don’t protect YOU; they keep you from spreading to others. Meaning if the coaches’ safety is the concern (as the age factor would suggest) then they’re doing if backwards and it’d be most important for the players to be masked. And it’s ridiculous that all these guys are crammed into locker rooms before the game, at halftime, then after the game, but when they’re outside during the game everybody is worried about masks.

  36. As with most NFL rules, there is no consistency. Regardless, if you accept that there can be false negatives in testing then all personnel should be required to wear masks to prevent infections. The NFL is not in a bubble so they are still at risk.

  37. Shame on al of you for forgetting the cardinal rule that nfl owners live by. The almighty dollar. They don’t want their $5B cash green printing
    Press being destroyed because some coach’s wife got her hair done, kissed coach good luck and it takes out a team for two weeks. Unlike baseball, One team goes down and the whole season is essentially over. So yes, the owners want everyone masked up. If they could mask the players, they would. Optics And social responsibility are a distant second place to $$

  38. A hearty middle finger to those of you anti maskers out there. You’re the reason we are in this situation.

  39. Shocked by the responses here – NO they absolutely should not give it up, if anything they should be turning up the pressure with game-day penalties for noncompliance. They are playing a silly game for our entertainment while thousands die. The mask doesn’t in any way impede them from doing their job – most cover their mouths when making playcalls anyways, they should be setting an example for the rest of the country.

  40. The COVID tests are not 100% accurate. NFL players are fined for having socks too long or too short. Coaches should suck it up and show the self discipline they lecture their players on a daily basis and wear the mask.

  41. Bose or Sony, Apple, Motorola,etc. Opportunity for you – Make a face mask with anti-fogging clear plastic at the mouth and built-in megaphone

  42. “Optics” is a completely valid reason. The whole reason we’re in this mess is that a large portion of the population refuses to wear them. Showing prominent citizens not wearing masks will either strengthen peoples belief that masks aren’t important, or make more people think they’re not. This isn’t hard. If everyone wore masks more often, the country would be in a significantly better place than it is.

  43. The players play without them so why do the coaches have to wear them seems it more for show than anything else

  44. Yes, obviously. The mask mandate was to appease the crazies on the left that think the CDC, Fauci and Trump are lying to them everyday and think that Covid can spread from 40 yards away.
    It was just to shut them up.

  45. If the players don’t have to wear masks, why do coaches? Coaches are not sitting on a couch watching the game eating potato chips and sipping a bear. They are out there running up and down the sidelines, yelling and carting off the injured. Having a mask available, possibly even designating some number of less physical activty coaches to not have to wear the mask or provide it as an option, seems to make the most sense.

  46. They should be used when possible. That simple, learn from the rest of the world.
    However covering their faces with clipboard is hilarious, although it is probably just reactionary.

  47. Imagine the first coach that calls “Blue 26 jet right” and the muffled interpretation is “Boo 26 jet flight” and it’s a botched play or timeout. Over miscommunication muffling people who already spend 80 hours a week together unmasked. It’s the most ridiculous thing on planet earth and the NFL is just trying to force continued compliance on the nation.

  48. Everyone in the NFL is tested. The stadiums are, for the most part, empty. The masks are virtue signaling.

  49. Of course they follow same protocol as the players and get tested regularly. Come game day do you see players wearing masks. If the answer is no, then there you go. Why double standards. Now if a coach is old in the high risk group then that is on them.

  50. Absolutely not. Period. It’s absurd enough that pro athletes, coaches, and staff get daily testing with instant results while the rest of us have to have a good reason to get tested and then wait 1-3 days (at least) for results. Of course, the NFL has been giving fans the middle finger for 20 years – why take a different approach now?

  51. If they are not going to enforce it ban it – they are all young people except for the old men coaching Seattle and New England. And Pete doesnt appear to honour any rules and never has – biggest cheater in pro sports ( I say this because of what he did at USC and because he has the most players suspended by the league for steroid use. If the league would take away a draft pick for coaches not wearing a mask then you might see some action.

  52. “First off, masks don’t protect YOU”

    There is now a lot of evidence that even a simple mask DOES protect you and others. It doesn’t work as well as an N95mask, but your chances of catching the virus if you wear a simple cotton mask drop a huge amount.

    The coaches are the ones that are most at risk. They tend to be older and not in great shape. You would think that they would want to wear a mask.

  53. The present rule is a dress code, not a safety or health code. The USA approach is — “every one for themself,” and most people do not adequately protect themselves. The same thing happened when automobile seat belts became mandatory.

    The real problem is that almost NOBODY wears a NIOSH certified & rated N-95 mask.
    Belichick had a mask, but because it was not a proper N-95 device, it did not fit.

    The hypocrisy is that merely wearing a bandit mask is essentially pointless, unless it meets certified specifications for NIOSH N-95 or better.

    Players should also wear a real N-95 mask when on the sideline, since there is some uncontrolled exposure. The CDC and WHO still don’t know whether SARS-CoV-2 conveyance is airborne, aerosol, or droplet based.

  54. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I love watching NFL football and I don’t want it to go away. Every time they relax the rules, or people get complacent, the virus cases spike and they start shutting down businesses again. This is a multi-billion dollar business. Let’s not shut it down. Most players and coaches can keep some space, but the head coaches are talking to everyone from very close range. So far, so good. Let’s keep the season rolling.

  55. Yes. This mask stuff is silly anyway. Unless you are contagious, it does nothing. All the air you breathe has to get into the atmosphere one way or another anyway, and reusable cloth masks are just inane. Surgical masks used properly by properly trained professionals work. All the rest of this is just for looks.

  56. I think its pointless to have a mask requirement for some but not all. The fewer people in masks the less effective the masks become. Honestly it should be the players wearing shields on the field over coaches in masks. Given players’ physical exertion and proximity on plays they are much more likely to trasmit playing than coaches on the sidelines.

  57. PFTSelectiveCensorship says:
    September 22, 2020 at 12:18 pm
    Since they don’t do anything in the first place, yes.


    Six month into this and moron comments like this still persist.

  58. The League needs to mandate a flatulence policy to help stop the spread of Covid! Even if it maybe, just maybe, might help.

    We can ALL do our part & NOT FART!

  59. What’s more ridiculous are the refs running around with the masks and the when there is a penalty they gather around to discuss it and they all drop their masks to hear each other…duh…

  60. I’m glad PFT has brought this subject up. The coaches are no more of a risk than any player or other personnel that are being tested at the same rate (daily now). The NFL needs to step up fast, make the change and then rescind the fines against the coaches and teams that have been fined.

  61. It is easy to see from the overwhelming amount of ignorance on the value of wearing a mask, why COVID has been spreading so rapidly.

  62. meadowlandssports says:
    September 22, 2020 at 12:09 pm
    Dumbest thing I saw Sunday was coaches properly wearing their masks, but still covering their faces with their diner-menu play cards while they spoke into their headsets. As if we could see their lips move…
    I’m sure it becomes an automatic reaction after having done it thousands of time, hence the term, “muscle memory.”

  63. The mask, at this point, is nothing but an empty virtue signal. Especially for coaches, but for everybody else as well. Early on before we had any real data on the virus, being overly cautious made sense and was understandable. Now that we actually have some data that shows that the virus isn’t nearly as deadly as once feared, the mask nonsense needs to stop. We’ve tanked our economy and millions have lost their livelihoods over a completely irrational overreaction to a virus. It’s lunacy.

  64. “The mask limits their ability to breath and communicate”

    Communicate maybe but it absolutely does not limit your ability to breath. Surgeons wear them for hours with no issues.

    I have bad year round allergies and asthma and I work out at Planet Fitness 6 days out of 7 for 30-40 minutes at a time and work hard at it, and have no problem breathing.

    Anyone who claims a mask is making it harder to breath is soft and selfish

  65. So we were asked six months ago to lock down for a few weeks to “flatten the curve” and allow time for hospitals to gear up to handle future surges.

    Are hospitals not ready? Why?

    Open it up already. Let individuals decide for themselves.

  66. Makes zero sense to have them wear masks, players do not half the time coaches masks are down, what is it accomplishing

  67. mjclementz.
    Russell Wilson has a new born baby at home. I’m going to assume he was wearing a mask on the sideline as an added procaution and not an “optics thing”.

  68. Wearing a mask while functioning as a play-caller and head coach, alongside people who are tested every day- criminy, these coaches should at the very least get an exemption while their unit is on the field.

  69. Let’s face it. It IS all about optics.
    In fact the entire season, with all the SJW messages and posturing and virtue signaling is all about “Optics”.

    And from what I am reading the NFL viewership is dramatically down, and I think all of this is a big reason why.

    Let’s follow the “science” as they say. Statistics say those over 70 are the greatest at risk. Below 60 your risk of serious illness is about the same as the flu.

    So, let’s have Coaches 60 and over required and the rest let’s now worry about it, and stop “Corona Virus Virtue Signaling”….

  70. Let’s Revisit:
    -15 days to slow the spread
    -Flatten the curve to prevent overwhelming the hospitals
    -“Healthy people shouldn’t go around wearing masks” -Fauci
    -Let’s put Covid sick elderly back into nursing homes, then blame the Federal Government
    -Hydroxychloroquine protocols don’t work, its conspiracy & Governor’s ban the use.
    -Field Doctors banned from YouTube & other media for touting the benefits of Hydroxychloroquine protocols
    -Gathering to worship God = bad, but gathering to protest = good
    -Shopping for groceries is safe, but showing up to vote is not
    -Mask up & be vigilant in the lobby, but relax at your table

    It’s Orwellian out there

  71. Not a Pats Fan, but the mere fact coach Belicheck has done it, not well, but he does it, a caveman can do it. This guy hates any inconvenience, and yet he does it. Attempts*

    The mask is simple, my 4 year old wears it, and knows about the requirement. If you want to wear it or not, or argue it. Whatever. Respect the process mr florio you were Gung-ho about it until one of the coaches you liked were fined and you biased you’re way into an article now disliking it. Too much complaining about a simple thing. You are getting old

  72. PFTSelectiveCensorship says:
    September 22, 2020 at 12:18 pm
    Since they don’t do anything in the first place, yes.

    Wow, dumb.

    A mask limits you from putting fat, keyboard, greaser fingers like yours from your mouth.

    At least there is that, right?

    But yet, it isn’t doing anything, especially if you’re not wearing it. Even the plague doctors knew enough to wear a long dumb creepy mask from touching the face, which for most, is a subconscious reaction.

  73. SO the players, lots on the sideline dont wear masks i e trainers, at least it seems that way.. but coaches? SHOULD? just verfies the hypocrisy.. and lack of anything other than PC..

  74. And the NFL responds: “We are a PRIVATE business. We don’t need your OPINION on whether our employees should or should not wear masks.”

    The NFL has a $15 BILLION business to protect. Even with daily testing, the mask may be a redundancy, but they to need to do everything to REDUCE the risk of an outbreak on each team and risk cancelling the season.

    And strange how so many of you are so fake “offended” about a coach (ie. NOT YOU PERSONALLY) being told to wear a mask while working at their job…

  75. What you see on the sidelines with masks is better then what you see in the public. Nobody has any sense or discipline in their use. They are actually at more risk to contract the virus because of the constant touching of the mask. Does it really make a difference if everyone has been tested and none of the players are wearing them? Of course not, common sense needs to prevail. A mask is not a silver bullet. Sean Payton has already had the disease. Maybe a full hazmat suit with respirator is next.

  76. Whats the purpose of all the testing that is done? Yes abandon it. The players are full contact the whole game. Also side by side on the sidelines. Wheres the 6’ of distance. We are going in to week 3 and no signs of a positive test. Abandon it. Whats wrong with these athletes and coaches taking the same risk an everyday American would. Im on a construction site and tell the ppl that tell me to put a mask on Why all of yall got your mask on why do i need mine.

  77. surprise surprise the macho-ism of football leads to not wearing a mask, that’s for wimps. If they dont want to wear a mask the various cities should come down hard on the teams for violating their own rules and regulations. Wear a damn mask people

  78. Considering the egos involved If wearing a mask makes a head coaches job more difficult then I’m in favor of keeping it mandatory.

  79. Should the NFL put people outside their faux bubble at risk why they make billions, hmmn….

  80. I propose astronaut helmets. You solve the communication issue while maintaining that elegant social safety protocol.

  81. I NEVER hear about astronauts Belling aching about wearing a helmet with fresh air being pumped in…make because they would die without it…HEY!..Why doesn’t the NFL make the HC wear astronaut gear for 4 hours?…comfort, prote tin, inside mic!!

  82. Andy Reid’s hat-mask is clearly the best and should be required. This is entertainment after all. At Baltimore Monday night? I predict 75% chance of fog. Better get those wipers installed Coach.

  83. No, they need to help set an example for all the covidiots out there that are completely and possibly willfully ignorant of the fact that the pandemic is still going strong, over 201K people are dead, and projections are at this point that we may pass 400K by the end of the year. This is a serious issue, people are dying.

  84. Hi. Watching in UK. Surely the answer is, that if the ‘mask’ rule is to stay; that play callers use a visor as opposed to a face mask. That way their voices would not be muffled and the players can also see what they are saying. This way they still stick to rules, set a good example in the influential position they are in and also it does not hinder their abilities.

  85. While I’m hardly an anti-masker, it doesn’t make sense under the testing protocols that coaches need to be treated differently than the players.

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