The Seahawks are 4-0. A 5-0 start would be unprecedented in Seattle.
But more important is the unprecedented challenge the NFL currently faces.
The dominoes have started to fall. At least eight Titans players and eight Titans staffers have tested positive for COVID-19, and not only was their game against the Steelers rescheduled, they can’t even open their facility until at least the middle of this week. Cam Newton tested positive and a Chiefs backup player tested positive, forcing the Pats-Chiefs game to be rescheduled to Monday night.
There was also a major scare Saturday night when a Saints player tested positive after traveling on the team plane. Talk of an outbreak took over until it was determined to be a false positive.
Frankly, this league is walking on the thinnest of ice.
This discussion has nothing to do with how dangerous the virus is. You can have those arguments offline. The point is that the NFL and its players association have stated their commitment to prioritizing health, and teams simply cannot play if there are infected players. This week, we learned how tenuous the situation truly is. You can test all you want, but with a varying incubation period, positive tests can pop up on a daily basis – just look at the trickle of Titans players each day this week.
Time and again, we hear that socially distancing and wearing masks are the two most important actions for preventing a spread. I would argue that – metaphorically speaking - the NFL is social distancing, but it’s not "wearing a mask."
"Wearing a mask" is what the NBA and WNBA did. It’s what the NHL did. It’s what Major League Soccer did in Orlando for a month and what the National Women’s Soccer League did in Utah earlier this year. They all carried out their plans without major incident. It provided the least amount of risk.
And while I give Major League Baseball all the credit in the world for pulling off what they have, it wasn’t without major issues early on that threatened their season too.
What I’m saying tonight is: While there is no fool-proof plan to preventing the virus from popping up, the league and its players have the best chance of success if they “mask-up” so-to-speak, and stay in some sort of bubble for the rest of the season - or at least 32 individual bubbles. Pro Football Talk has reported that the NFL would gladly do that, but the players association would be strongly against it.
That’s why I believe it’s on the players to make that sacrifice. If they want to give themselves the very best chance of earning a full-season’s salary – significant money – it’s on them to accept such a plan.
If not, the risk is higher that games could be cancelled. That full weekend slates could be postponed. That the season might not make it to the very end. And in the Seahawks case, that a season full of promise – one in which they are legitimate contenders for a championship – would be threatened.
Russell Wilson often talks about having “No Regrets.” I can assure you there will be regrets if the Hawks start 4-0 and the season is lost due to complications from containing COVID-19 across the league.
The Seahawks have done a fantastic job avoiding an outbreak so far. But to mitigate risk, everyone around the league should consider taking one more critical step.