The NFL is busy handing out fines for Coronavirus violations, and the New England Patriots are reportedly among those who were punished: according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the league found that the team had breached protocols either before or during its outbreak in early October. As a result, the organization had to pay a fee of $350,000.
New England had its first positive Covid-19 test ahead of its Week 4 game in Kansas City, with quarterback Cam Newton being diagnosed and quickly isolated. The team’s game against the Chiefs was subsequently moved back one day — a decision that did not prevent an outbreak given that the team had to send a total of eight players to the Coronavirus reserve list during the two weeks after Newton’s positive test on October 3.
Back then the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, praised the club for its handling of the situation.
“We actually had four days of testing — it was Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday — and we also took the additional step to review the video from inside the Patriots facility to look at the compliance with mask-wearing,” Dr. Sills said in the aftermath of Newton’s positive test. “What we found there was the compliance was very high. Cam Newton was wearing a mask, he was wearing his tracking device, and everyone around him was wearing a mask.”
Nevertheless, it appears as if New England violated protocols at one point. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe suggested on Sunday morning that players were found not wearing masks at the Gillette Stadium facility — leading to the fine mentioned above.
The Patriots are not the first club punished by the league for violating protocols.
The Tennessee Titans were fined $350,000 earlier this year, while the New Orleans Saints were stripped of a seventh-round draft pick and fined an additional $500,000 for violating protocols a second time — head coach Sean Payton and the team were fined $100,000 and $250,000, respectively, after a Week 2 loss in Las Vegas. The Raiders, meanwhile, were stripped of a sixth-round selection and had to pay a $500,000 fine, with Jon Gruden being fined $150,000.
The league’s protocols and their enforcement are not only met with positive feedback, though. Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty heavily criticized the league and the players union after New England’s outbreak earlier this year.
“We’re trying to get games played and we’re trying to get the season going. So, for them, it’s not about what’s in our best interest, our health and safety. It’s about, ‘What can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good? How can we go out there and play games?’” he said. “I think what I kind of learned personally throughout this situation is that it’s going to be up to us as the individuals in this building to just really take care of one another.”