Why the NFL needs to immediately end the Titans’ 2020 season
As of last week, the NFL and NFLPA have representatives in Nashville investigating why the Tennessee Titans have by far the most positive COVID tests of any NFL team. The organization had 22 positive tests from players and staff. With the team's inability to finish in the league for two consecutive days with no positive tests pending further positive tests, the Titans' Sunday game against the Bills is now in serious danger. Like all other games, the Titans can play this season.
When longtime Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky reported that several Titans players were doing private practice in violation of NFL protocol last week while the team's COVID numbers were increasing, it should have left everyone in the NFL blood cold . When you think of the worst scandals in NFL history - whether it's BountyGate, the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal, the Paul Horning gambling scandal, or SpyGate - there is no similar NFL protocol violation outside of BountyGate that potentially posing a threat to more people in and around the league. And when you add the contagion factor and the fact that anyone in close contact with a player can catch the virus, it could be argued that it is the most disruptive and actionable offense in NFL history.
Worse than Gregg Williams who told his defensive players, "Kill the head and the body will die?" Worse than the patriots who upset the competitive balance with their various tricks? Worse than the specter of a game of chance? Worse than the unspeakable deeds against animals that Vick supported?
If you break it, yes. And if you then take into account the defiance of the players involved ...
... And the fact that the NFL is trying to balance the coronavirus - regardless of widespread and grave health concerns - makes it clear that a grave message needs to be sent.
Longtime NFL insider Mike Freeman reveals that this is the drumbeat for the rest of the league.
With all due respect, the loss of any draft picks or cap space in the years to come does not prevent teams from exiting the COVID logs now. Even if the Titans were forced to lose their games this season, there is a likely scenario in which they could hit the postseason.
So what is the appropriate punishment that will deter these actions without negatively affecting other teams who obey the rules?
Take out the Titans for the rest of the season. The Tennessee Titans' 2020 season is 3-0 over. No more games, no playoffs, no meetings, no exercises, nothing. Your season is over, folks, and you asked for it. Given the widespread positive testing, there is no indication of how or when the Titans might play again anyway.
Discarding a team from a league with 32 teams in the season would of course create a logistical nightmare from a planning point of view, but aren't we there already? Didn't the Steelers have to postpone their game with the Titans from week 4 to week 7? Didn't the Ravens have to postpone their week 7 game with the Steelers to week 8? Aren't the bills pending hoping against hope that this Titans team can string enough negative tests to get back on the field? The Titans are expected to play against the Texans on October 18th. Does anyone reading this think the game is not on hold yet? What about another opponent the Titans have on their mind? How bad do you think it will screw up the Steelers season if they postpone the Titans game again?
No, the Titans created this monster and they should pay for it at the end of their season. The NFL did well with 31 member clubs from 1999 (when the new Browns were formed) to 2001 (before the Texans were formed in 2002), and the NFL can do it again. Anything less than a death penalty for the Titans at this point is a toothless, futile, and potentially dangerous exercise.
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