This 2020-2021 NFL season is one for the history books. It was anything but normal for all 32 teams in the league.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic added a whole new layer that each team had to understand and adapt to on a daily basis. In the beginning, rookies were quarantined into team hotels during training camps, daily COVID-19 testing was a requirement; there was no preseason play; teams had to stay home during bye weeks….
But after 148 days since the season began back on September 10, 2020, there is only one team that registered zero positive COVID-19 tests: the Seattle Seahawks.
Out of 700 positive cases reported in the NFL this season, Seattle had none. Zippo.
So how did the Seahawks do it?
This article in the New York Times written by Ken Belson explains more.
“They invented a playbook for a safe practice environment at a time when the future was deeply uncertain and people were questioning the wisdom of pro sports starting up,” said Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist who has helped organizations respond to the coronavirus and informally advised the Seahawks. “You have to be willing to absorb some costs, and you need leaders who can communicate in a crisis.”
Leaders such as nine-year veteran quarterback Russell Wilson and 10-year head coach Pete Carroll, who embody a competitive nature on the field. That same mindset was used to tackle COVID-19.
Let’s also not forget that the nation’s first reported “hot spot” of the coronavirus was in Kirkland, Washington, approximately 30 minutes from where the Seahawks practice facility in Renton, Washington.
“I realized that we were going to have to create our own bubble,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “Everything that one person did, everybody did, if we were together and connected.”
“It was like a band of brothers,” said Seahawks Director of Player Health and Performance Sam Ramsden, who wore a T-shirt a few days each week that read, “Stay Negative or Stay Home.”
Some of the ways Seattle was able to create a “bubble-like” atmosphere and keep the players safe was ordering food from an app on their phone rather than stand in line at the cafeteria; putting dividers up in the locker rooms; players wore sensors that tracked how close in proximity they were to other people…
All these extra efforts helped keep Seattle on the field on Sundays. The team never had to reschedule or push out a game all season. Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who was contemplating opting out of the season before it began, took notice of the lack of COVID-19 issues within the franchise too.
“We got the lucky end of the stick where we never had to really deal with it,” Lockett said.