Commentary: In the COVID-19 era in the NFL, wins and losses won’t be confined to Gameday

Receiver John Ursua was the first Seahawks player to be added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday. Landing on the COVID-19 Reserve List means that Ursua has either tested positive for COVID-19 or is being quarantined because he’s been exposed to someone who has tested positive.

And it’s another reminder that, in this uncertain time, everything can be going great – until it’s not.

In fact, I was getting ready to say tonight that the Seahawks were already winning even though they hadn’t held a single practice. We’re still more than a month away from – hopefully – their first game of the season in Atlanta. But they had tackled the initial challenges as well as just about any other team in the league.

Just one Seahawk – Chance Warmack – opted out. And until Ursua, there hadn’t been a single Seahawk in a group of more than 100 players placed on the COVID-19 reserve list.

But in football, more than most other sports, with the higher rate of contact, one slip through the cracks has the potential to create a major mess. Wins and losses aren’t coming this year exclusively on Gamedays. Now, more than ever, those wins and losses will come during the week – keeping the team healthy and avoiding catastrophic outbreaks within a locker room.

In that regard at least, there’s a small comfort knowing the Seahawks have confronted any potential hurdles head-on, and will continue to do so.

 “We’re gonna try to kick ass at every aspect of this thing,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re attacking it with a really clear discussion and open dialogue about what it takes and what we need to do and hopefully our guys will be really educated to be at our best to carry this challenge out.”       

From the outset of this pandemic, Pete Carroll’s philosophy, “Always Compete” has never wavered, conforming to the issues at hand. Competing to have the best virtual offseason. To realize the importance of outside stories like George Floyd’s murder, and devoting full days to the discussion of social injustice – one that was meaningful to his players.

“For them to create that environment for us was perfect,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “It was something that was much needed. And we all know that life is bigger than football. And for them to take away 2-3 days for us to just talk as men in America, versus Seahawks players in America, it was phenomenal.”

This process, in a very uncertain time, is daunting. It is day-by-day. But what we’ve seen so far – provided that Ursua’s incident remains isolated - gives us optimism that the Seahawks are in a good position to manage a crisis.

Vigilance and patience are top priority.

In fact, their patience was rewarded in a sense this week, when Quinton Dunbar was taken off of the Commissioner’s Exempt List when he wasn’t charged for his alleged involvement in an armed robbery in Florida this offseason. It was certainly a headache and one that had looked bleak. Dunbar could still face a suspension after the league reviews the incident under its personal conduct policy.

But at least Dunbar should be available for a portion of the season. And add him to a secondary that also added All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, and they’ve addressed a major offseason need.

So yes, every day is tenuous. But so far, the Seahawks have had more wins lately than losses. They have controlled what they can control.

Here’s hoping that Ursua’s addition to the reserve list for COVID-19 doesn’t lead to circumstances that can completely reverse that trend.