Following Cam Newton’s positive Covid-19 test, the New England Patriots are now reportedly under league investigation: according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the NFL launched a process to find out whether or not the organization has complied with Coronavirus protocols before Newton’s positive test results were delivered late on Friday.
The Patriots are not the first team to be investigated in light of a player testing positive for the virus, however: the Tennessee Titans, who have seen 20 positive tests since September 24, are all also currently being looked at by the league. It is likely that other clubs will have to go down the same route following positive tests within their respective buildings. The league, after all, has a vested interest in finding out how the protocols in place work and where there might be potentially dangerous shortcomings.
While it is therefore easy to point to the investigation into the Patriots and sense something nefarious going on — see the league’s botched Deflategate scandal in 2015 — it seems more likely than not that this is standard procedure in the age of Covid-19.
The Patriots, meanwhile, were one of the last three teams in the NFL — the others being the Houston Texans and the Los Angeles Chargers — not to send a player to the Reserve/Covid-19 list. While Newton’s positive test obviously changed this, the team seems to have followed the league’s protocols since they were implemented in mid-July.
When asked about his thoughts on the team’s handling of the league-mandated Coronavirus rules during a media conference call in August, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised his organization’s handling of the situation.
“I think that the team and the organization have addressed this very professionally, strictly, and we’ve changed quite a bit as more information or different techniques or products or whatever have become available or our information has changed,” Belichick said. “We’ve been very fluid with this, the players have done a great job of following protocols, and we’ve also had a lot of great feedback from the players on things, suggestions.
“Because seeing it from an organizational point of view or a coach’s point of view is one thing, but when you’re a player, you see what you do on a daily basis maybe a little bit differently, and so their feedback has been great and we’ve made quite a few or I’d say several modifications to our protocols and programs because of them or suggestions that they’ve made or concerns that they’ve raised.”