The NFL kicked off its 2020 season Sunday even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the United States.
Before teams took the field, the league created specific guidelines aimed at protecting players and staff from the deadly coronavirus. But it doesn’t seem like everyone is following every rule to the fullest extent.
Under the NFL and NFL Players’ Associations’s game day protocol, those around the bench must wear face coverings at all times. That includes coaches, medical staff and anyone else who might enter the area.
Several people, however, were seen improperly wearing their face coverings during Sunday’s slate of games. Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton were just some of the many culprits.
NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent sent a memo to all teams reminding them to follow proper protocol Monday.
“We must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” Vincent wrote, via NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs.
Face coverings must be worn “securely” across the nose and mouth “to prevent the transmission of the virus,” the memo noted. Otherwise, they are out of compliance.
At least one person is holding himself accountable, though. Gruden on Monday acknowledged he’s “got to do a better job” at properly wearing his mask.
“It was really hot,” he told reporters, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “… I’ve got to do a better job.”
It doesn’t sound like a little heat will be enough for the NFL to cave on its strict health and safety protocols. After all, few expected the league to kick off its season on time after the coronavirus forced several professional sports leagues in the U.S. to shut down in March.
And if the NFL wants to stay in business, keeping everyone safe is of the utmost importance.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images