Mike Tomlin: Steelers followed NFL policy in letting Vance McDonald play

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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.

30 responses to “Mike Tomlin: Steelers followed NFL policy in letting Vance McDonald play

  1. While within the policy or protocol, it still was a stupid move to travel with a sick player to a game that the Steelers were such a heavy favorite. They could have won the game without Vance. Why take the chance. Coach T is a HOF coach with many years to go, but this was a bad decision.

  2. “…As long as he is negative and not showing signs of COVID, he’s able to travel, and [McDonald] was and we did.”
    ——————————————————————————————-
    He missed practice “with an illness” and part of the criteria to travel are “not showing signs of COVID”. I can’t find what his illness was, but I’m guessing since he has Covid, there were signs of Covid. This also happened on Friday, 5 days after he played against Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens who turned positive after the game.

  3. So Trip Tomlin states” he wasn’t showing any signs of COVID-19 “??? Maybe he needs to do as coach Belichick does and say you need to talk to the medical personnel because I am not a doctor!
    Obviously if he was sick enough to miss practice he had some symptoms and signs of COVID-19!

  4. THe NFL should have more stringent guidelines and err on the side of (extreme) caution. This isn’t exactly the common cold we are dealing with.

  5. Sad example of a team and coach who literally are willing to risk anything including the health of their players because football is more important .Typical disingenuous comment from Tomlin .

  6. I really don’t know what to think of this statement. On one hand, you see guys all the time on the injury report with an illness designation and they don’t have covid. However, in this instance, after playing a team with a known positive case, it seems like the thing to do was hold him out of the Cowboys game. Then again, tests were negative, and he apparently didn’t feel unwell, as he played in the game. Very similar situation to the Humphrey issue.

  7. Steelers fan here. They may have technically followed protocol (I have zero inside info), but considering the circumstances, Vance should not have played nor been with the team Sunday.

  8. Just what exactly does he mean “signs of covid”? My wife was sick yesterday so I looked up the signs of covid again and they include practically everything you can think of now. Unless he had gout in his big toe or a bad case of psoriasis pretty much everything else is on the table

  9. “You know, those aren’t decisions that are made by us,” Tomlin said.

    Really? Yes, you can and should make those decisions. The NFL policy is the minimum, there is nothing that says you can’t use common sense and do more. Blaming the policy is a lame move.

  10. 1. Marlon Humphrey did the same thing the week before.
    2. If they leave VM home the media goes nuts asking why.

    They did the right thing by bringing him.

  11. Just another example of how the NFL’s rules aren’t very well-defined. Matthew Stafford played Sunday after supposedly being quarantined for 5 days. I say supposedly because he wasn’t placed on the Covid list until Wednesday and if that was the start of his isolation the 5 days wouldn’t have been up until end of day Sunday. I’m guessing he must have been already in isolation Tuesday and it takes an entire day for the Covid list to publicly be released? But why is it so ambiguous we’re having to guess at things like that?

  12. Here is an example of two AFC teams cheating and one (the Pats) following the rules:

    Baltimore plays Humphrey, knowing he is sick. Pitt does the same thing with McDonald.

    NE, JJ Taylor, falls ill, does not test positive at all, but NE errs on the side of caution, he is quarantined and inactive.

    Two teams who have coaches on the Competition Committee openly cheating the protocols.

    Dock picks and presents heavy fines. NOW.

    This is absolutely ridiculous.

  13. Speaking of Big Ben, he just moved into tie for 4th all-time in comeback victories with Johnny Unitas. Only 3 ahead of him, that being Manning, Brady, and Brees. Big Ben, you are the man, Mr. Clutch. You should get your props.

  14. “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.”
    ——————-

    The NFL COVID protocols is 71 pages long. Put in in writing if a player with ANY illness should be put into quarantine out of “abundance of caution”. Otherwise, your recommendation is ridiculous if teams are subjected to your whims of “caution.”

  15. To even be asked this type question or have to answer is ridiculous yea teams want players sick and possible everyone around them.

  16. The Steelers should have to forfeit that game and season. Allowing a sick player on the field is effectively attempted murder. Tomlin, the coaches and ownership should be charged with attempted murder of not just the rest of the team, but the Cowboys, the fans and anyone in any hospitality role along the way. This is not just reckless, it’s criminal.

  17. If he is sick with anything why have him travel. The risk of a flu or some other illness spreading and making other players sick would be bad. No normal person goes to work feeling sick unless they are an idiot.

  18. touchback6 says:
    November 11, 2020 at 10:39 am
    Here is an example of two AFC teams cheating and one (the Pats) following the rules:

    Baltimore plays Humphrey, knowing he is sick. Pitt does the same thing with McDonald.

    NE, JJ Taylor, falls ill, does not test positive at all, but NE errs on the side of caution, he is quarantined and inactive.

    Two teams who have coaches on the Competition Committee openly cheating the protocols.

    Dock picks and presents heavy fines. NOW.

    This is absolutely ridiculous.

    ————

    Yup the pats always do everything right. Ok. Eyeroll. Go enjoy the last second win against the jets.

  19. Let’s see if the Steelers are in a different category with the league’s selective punishment. My bet is there untouchable?

  20. He said they’re masked up, he just got fined for not wearing his mask, lol. If this was Gruden and the Raiders they’d take a 3rd round pick.

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