Much was made in July about the ban on post-game jersey swaps and then, eventually, a sponsorship-opportunity workaround. The document preventing players from lingering on the field to remove their jerseys, sign them, and trade them with a player on the other team has another important provision that routinely is being violated.
From the first half of the same sentence banning jersey swaps, there’s this: “Teams are prohibited from post-game interactions within 6 feet of one another.”
Anyone who has watched any NFL game this year has seen those interactions happening far closer than six feet apart. The lone exception? Last Thursday’s Broncos-Jets game, after which Denver coach Vic Fangio hustled his team to the locker room not to avoid infection but to avert an imbroglio.
The most alarming example of this provision being violated happened on Monday night. After the Patriots-Chiefs game, New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a facemask-to-facemask interaction, putting them as close together as two people in NFL uniform could be.
That's Stephon Gilmore with Mahomes. pic.twitter.com/wY2GECSHgX
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 7, 2020
The following morning, a swab of Gilmore’s nose generated a positive outcome for COVID-19. It’s entirely possible that Gilmore was shedding virus while face to face with Mahomes.
At a time when the league seems to be doing a lot of huffing and puffing about COVID-19 protocols, what happened to the rule requiring players to stay at least six feet apart after games? Even if the league isn’t enforcing it, the teams should be.
Failure to respect that restriction on Monday night means that Mahomes, the Chiefs, and their fans will have to spend the next week or so worrying that the virus is incubating in Mahomes’ body, and that he too will eventually test positive.