The pandemic continues to rage out of control. The NFL continues to not flinch in the face of it.
Yes, the 2020 season included several outbreaks — in Tennessee, Baltimore, Cleveland. But despite some fairly major surgery to the schedule, including a three-week delay in a game between the Steelers and Titans, the league got all 256 regular-season games played within 17 weeks.
In the 10 games played in the postseason, only one game was impacted by COVID-19. The fact that the Browns upset the Steelers in a game that saw Cleveland not have its head coach made the virus even less of an issue. Last week in the divisional round, nothing happened. This week, as the AFC and NFC Championship games approached, it never even came up.
And so it’s no surprise that both games have gotten the green light for today. The only remaining question is whether the Super Bowl will feature any COVID-19 issues.
The two-week delay between today’s games and Super Sunday surely will make people nervous. The longer that players are away from the team facility, the greater the chance they’ll catch the virus somewhere else.
That’s why the message from the coaches who win today and tonight must be clear and unequivocal: For the next two weeks, isolate yourself from family members, friends, strangers, anyone. Restrict all movements. Find your favorite room in your house or apartment and stay there.
As PFT reported on December 29, the Super Bowl teams will remain in their normal environments during Super Bowl week, traveling to Tampa the same way that they would for a normal road game in Tampa. This will, as a practical matter, ensure that any potential exposure during the trip to Florida (or while there before the game) won’t result in a positive test before kickoff, given the incubation period.
And so there’s reason to be optimistic that the Super Bowl teams won’t have any COVID-19 issues. Ultimately, it’s on the leadership of the winners of the Lamar Hunt and George Halas trophies to ensure that the right message is sent, and heeded, to the entire organization regarding the importance of not slipping now.