Dr. Fauci Says There's a "Danger" the NFL Season Could Be Canceled

The NFL could be the next victim of COVID-19.

Right now, Americans are holding on to any aspects of life that make things feel normal, even if they look a little different due to COVID-19. And there's arguably nothing more American than football. The NFL season kicked off this summer with players successfully heading to training camp, but ever since, outbreaks have been creating some concern. Now, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is saying there's a "danger" the NFL season could be cut short. Read on for more, and for an update on the most prominent COVID case, check out This Is How Likely It Is That Trump Will Get Worse, Doctors Warn.

In an interview with PBS Newshour on Oct. 8, host Judy Woodruff asked Fauci if there was "a real chance" that the NFL season could be called off. "You know, there's always a danger of that," he said. "I hope that that's not the case. They put a lot of good-faith effort in trying to make it work. If it turns out those efforts fail, that's really unfortunate. But I would leave that up to the judgment. The critical issue is the safety, the welfare, and the health of the players and the personnel associated with them. That's got to take precedent over everything else."

The issue has come to the fore following the NFL's worst outbreak of COVID-19 yet among the Tennessee Titans. The team has seen nearly 25 players and staff test positive since Sept. 24.

This is not the first time that Fauci has raised the possibility of the football season being canceled. Back in July, he told CNN that "unless players are essentially in a bubble—insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day—it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall." That is, however, what the NFL has tried to do.

The league brought in an aggressive set of COVID protocols at the start of the season, with players and staff tested six days per week, tracking devices worn at training facilities to aid contact tracing, and those who test positive removed from the team environment and others with close contact quarantined. Team travel is restricted to essential attendees, while coaches must wear face masks on the field. Whether these measures are enough to save the NFL season from COVID remains to be seen.

The damage to teams of even a restricted season is potentially huge: A Forbes analysis concluded that a 2020 season played without spectators in stadiums could see the NFL lose $5.5 billion of revenue, with worst hit teams like the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots losing half their total revenue.

Here's what you need to know about the NFL's COVID outbreak. And for more on the latest with the virus, check out Here's How Fast COVID Is Spreading in Your State.

The Tennessee Titans are seeing COVID numbers climb.

stadium of tennessee titans football team

Two more Tennessee Titans players tested positive on Oct. 7, following four positive test results the previous week after the team had played a Sunday game against the Minnesota Vikings. Additionally, 11 Tennessee players have been placed on the reserve/COVID list (meaning the player has been potentially exposed to the virus, but has not yet tested positive). No positive results have been recorded in the Vikings camp. And for more updates from the nation's leading immunologist, Dr. Fauci Says This Is Why the Latest COVID Mutation Worries Him.

There's a growing outbreak among the New England Patriots, too.

new england patriots stadium

The New England Patriots have also canceled team practices this week after two players recently tested positive, and others were placed on the reserve/COVID list.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was the first Patriot to be diagnosed with COVID last week, and after the rest of the team tested negative, the Patriots were given the green light to play Kansas City on Monday. As a precaution, the team took two planes to Kansas City: one with the 20 players who had had "close contact" with Newton and another with the rest of the Patriots, The Nation reports. On Wednesday, it was announced that Patriots cornerback Stephen Gilmore, who played in the game on Monday, tested positive. And for more testing troubles, check out What the White House Outbreak Has Taught Us About Rapid COVID Tests.

And there's a case in Kansas City.

photo of kansas city football stadium

Shortly before the KC-Patriots game, KC practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta'amu also tested positive for the coronavirus. No further positive results have since been reported among the players or staffers. And for more up-to-date information on COVID outbreaks from coast to coast, sign up for our daily newsletter.

There's some concern about the Las Vegas Raiders.

las vegas raiders stadium

A player for the Las Vegas Raiders, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, has tested positive for COVID this week. The Raiders have made headlines recently after players were fined a total of $165,000 by the NFL for violating COVID protocols at a charity event and head coach, Jon Gruden, has been seen flouting the mask requirement on the field. And if you're wondering when we'll see the end of face coverings, Dr. Fauci Says This Is When We May Be Able to Stop Wearing Masks.

John Quinn
John Quinn is a London-based writer and editor who specializes in lifestyle topics. Read more
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