The NFL walked out on a limb Saturday when it decided to postpone Patriots-Chiefs to early this week.
They are now jumping up and down on said limb after deciding the Patriots will fly to Kansas City on Monday morning.
We’ll see whether or not it snaps.
Even if it doesn’t, even if the Patriots and the league get a great outcome and Cam Newton is the only one that ends up with a confirmed case of COVID-19, that doesn’t mean they were smart. It means they were lucky.
And right now, crossing your fingers doesn’t cut it.
One thing that is getting a little lost in all this is that the NFL’s responsibility doesn’t stop with players, coaches and staff. It extends to COMMUNITIES. That should mean the words “abundance of caution” are more than window-dressing an organization hangs out there before doing whatever the hell it wants to in the name of parity or fairness or schedules or money.
It means going a little overboard in the name of safety because players and coaches aren’t in a bubble. They are returning home to families. Those families are part of the community.
But even with the gun still smoking from last week’s misfire with the Tennessee Titans, the league’s going to do it again.
Refresher? Last week, the Titans had a confirmed case on Friday. They had no confirmed cases on Saturday. They flew to Minnesota, then flew back and now the organization has 20 cases.
But, but, but, everyone tested negative! And the Patriots are waiting two more days. Right. So maybe testing negative and being asymptomatic means not that much in the early stages.
I mean, there is research on this. People smarter than me are on the case, but we’re all pretty COVID-literate and understand the incubation period is more than a couple of days.
You can have it and not test positive. That’s why “close contacts” are asked to quarantine for 14 days as opposed to happily cruise around if they test negative once.
Getting on a plane if you were in close contact with someone who just came back COVID positive? Probably a bad idea. Getting on a plane with a bunch of other people who may also have been in contact with that person? Worse idea. Doing both those things then going home to your non-bubbled spouses and kids? The worst idea.
Imagine this wasn’t the NFL but Company X with branches in Nashville and Foxboro. And imagine the Nashville branch took a plane ride after having an employee test positive. Then two dozen people got sick. Then the Foxboro branch – a week later – decided to do almost the exact same thing.
Think there’d be some complaints in town about Company X?
You know what’s too bad about this? The league was doing real well with this up until now. Everybody. Players, coaches, doctors, team personnel, every single person going above and beyond. And now, faced with a little adversity that puts them in a bind, they buckled.
They don’t want to wait until Tuesday because they don’t want the Chiefs playing a Tuesday-Sunday-Thursday junket. They don’t want to tear it off the schedule and play it another time because that’s hard.
So instead, they’ll cross their fingers and let the best team with the best player in the entire NFL play on Monday against a franchise that’s just printed money for everyone for two decades. If it works and nobody gets sick, bo-flipping-nanza. If it doesn’t? If the Patriots single positive turns into several and the Chiefs wind up with more too? Then they gambled and lost. An abundance of arrogance, we’ll call it.
And it will only embolden the league to be more cavalier. Everybody’s fingers are crossed that Newton gets healthy and nobody else gets sick.
But if that does happen, the NFL shouldn’t be thinking, “all’s well that ends well.” They should know they got lucky.