In the midst of a COVID-19 crisis, the NFL has disciplined two teams for failing to follow the league’s protocols.
The New England Patriots were fined $350,000, and the New Orleans Saints were docked $500,000 and stripped of a seventh-round draft pick for various violations of the safety protocols, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Sources: The #Patriots were fined $350K for COVID-19 protocol violations stemming from issues in October when Cam Newton & others tested positive.
The #Saints were fined $500K and docked a 7th round pick for their mask-less locker room celebration. They are repeat offenders.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2020
Saints punished for maskless celebration
The root of the Saints’ severe punishment is reportedly due to their maskless locker room celebration following their Week 9 demolition of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After beating the Bucs 38-3 in prime time, players and head coach Sean Payton danced without masks in the locker room, which they are not allowed to do.
How do we know they did this? Players published videos to their social media accounts, and so did the Saints’ official Twitter account.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 9, 2020
The NFL probably didn’t have to spend too much time searching for evidence since players posted videos of themselves breaking the rules.
The only other team to receive such a harsh punishment is the Raiders, which makes sense. Both teams are repeat offenders. Both teams, plus Payton and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, were fined for failing to properly wear their masks when they faced each other in Week 2. The Raiders were punished again in November for continued mask violations, getting hit with a $500,000 fine and the loss of a sixth-round pick.
Patriots fined for October outbreak
The Patriots’ $350,000 fine is reportedly connected to the mid-October COVID-19 outbreak that required their Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos to be postponed two different times, though the specific violations aren’t known.
Quarterback Cam Newton was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Oct. 3, the first of seven players who would be placed on the list over a two-week period. Stephon Gilmore, Byron Cowart, James Ferentz, Derek Rivers, Shaq Mason and Sony Michel all ended up on the reserve/COVID-19 list before the outbreak was contained. The Patriots haven’t placed any players on the list since.
This is the same fine the Titans received for their early season outbreak, which affected more than 20 members of their organization and required the NFL to seriously reshuffle the schedule.
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