The rash of COVID-19 cases that have spread among the Tennessee Titans and forced a postponement of this week’s game with the Pittsburgh Steelers have served to amplify the importance of the protocols the NFL has put in place to quell the spread of the virus this season.
When members of the Las Vegas Raiders attended a charity event Monday night that saw several players not wearing masks in a public space, it brought a focus on how seriously those players were adhering to the protocols.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was proverbially slapped by the NFL with a $100,000 fine for not adequately wearing a mask on the sidelines of the team’s game against the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. On Wednesday, Gruden addressed the situation with his players from Monday night.
“We all understand that this is a terrible, terrible virus,” Gruden said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “And we have to do our part. We’re all vulnerable. Unfortunately, it sounds like a few people got the virus. I just wish the best for everybody in Tennessee. And it does certainly get yourself awakened to the reality of, it can get anybody, anywhere, at any time.”
Gruden said after the Saints game that he caught the virus this summer. While many teams across the league saw players and team personnel have bouts with the virus prior to and throughout training camp, the cases among the Titans are the first significant hurdle during the regular season. The NFL and NFLPA agreed in July to parameters for fining players and team personnel that are engaging in activities away from the team that would put them at higher risk of catching the virus.
Like quarterback Derek Carr, Gruden said that he believes the Raiders have done a good job of managing the circumstances and didn’t want the focus diverted from the funds raised for tight end Darren Waller‘s charity at the event. But he did say the matter has been addressed with the team this week.
“I’ll just say this: We’ve done a good job, we’ve done an excellent job,” Gruden said. “Last night, it was addressed with our players. They walked in with their masks on, there was an event. Sometimes you go to a restaurant, take your mask off. They’re aware of their mistake.
“But we’ve done an excellent job — using our masks, taking proper care of each other and everybody. I’m really proud of our players. And by the way, that was a great cause no one’s talked about. [Waller] raised over $300,000 for a great cause. I appreciate our players being there in support of him.”