The National Football League issued a massive fine to the New Orleans Saints over the weekend in its latest attempt to stay controversial and relevant.
On Nov. 8, Saints players celebrated their 38-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without masks on in the team locker room, resulting in a $500,000 fine, ESPN reported.
In addition, the team was also stripped of its seventh-round pick for next season’s draft.
On Nov. 3, the NFL sent out updated COVID-19 protocols to all teams, according to ESPN.
“All players and staff must wear masks or double-layered gaiters in the locker room on gameday — prior to the game, during halftime, and post-game,” the memo stated.
“It was actions in the video with unmasked players in the locker room after the game,” a league source told ESPN’s Mike Triplett. “The team also had previous violations and was provided ample warning that further actions would result in escalated discipline.”
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network suggested that the league issuing fines for coronavirus slip-ups is now common, and that the Saints are not the first team to deal with this.
“The #Saints were also found to have conducted a mask-less meeting, along with being repeat offenders. The #Patriots fine of $350K is the same as the #Titans from earlier in the season,” Rapoport tweeted.
— The #Saints were also found to have conducted a mask-less meeting, along with being repeat offenders.
— The #Patriots fine of $350K is the same as the #Titans from earlier in the season. https://t.co/HxfQkuFVO0
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2020
Perhaps it’s just my anger from Deflategate talking (#FreeBrady), but this massive fine from the NFL seems excessive.
The penalty, which is being appealed by the Saints, neglects one important detail.
NFL players are tested every day with the exception of game day. Plenty of players have tested positive for the virus, but it is typically caught before the game.
Notably, there was an incident in August when 77 players tested positive, but it was later determined that they were all false positives.
77 NFL players tested positive for the coronavirus. All of them were false positives. So how many people in America have tested positive but never actually had Covid? Most people don’t have the resources to get their tests double checked.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) August 24, 2020
It’s unlikely that the Saints are the first team to celebrate like this after winning — they just happened to be the ones that were caught on video, and the NFL jumped at the chance to show how “woke” it is by following confusing and at-times backward safety protocols.
Realistically, these massive fines to teams are likely nothing more than a cash grab and publicity stunt from the NFL to stay relevant.
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