On Friday, Steelers tight end Vance McDonald missed practice with an illness. On Saturday, McDonald took the team flight to Dallas. On Sunday, McDonald played against the Cowboys. On Monday, a COVID-19 test McDonald took on Sunday came back positive.
Now questions are being raised about why the Steelers didn’t immediately isolate McDonald from the rest of the team when he started feeling ill. But coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers were following NFL policy.
“You know, those aren’t decisions that are made by us,” Tomlin said. “It’s really cut and dry. It’s all in the procedural policy of COVID established in New York by the NFL. As long as he is negative and not showing signs of COVID, he’s able to travel, and [McDonald] was and we did.”
Now four other players, including Ben Roethlisberger, have to isolate because of close contact with McDonald. But Tomlin said he’s not second-guessing allowing McDonald to play.
“We don’t overanalyze it that way,” Tomlin said. “We utilize all the mechanisms at our disposal to minimize the potential of interaction. We’re all masked up. We’re all exercising good personal hygiene and social distancing. We’re doing all the things that we are asked. That’s our mindset regarding it.”
For all the talk from NFL teams about “an abundance of caution,” the Steelers perhaps should have been more cautious as soon as McDonald felt ill.