The NFL is postponing the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans set for Sunday, Oct. 4 following a COVID-19 outbreak within the Titans’ organization.
The league said the game is being rescheduled to Oct. 5 or 6 to “allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.”
Four Titans players and five team personnel tested positive in tests returned on Sept. 29 and 30, causing the team to initially shut down all in-person activities through Oct. 3. The Minnesota Vikings — who played the Titans on Sept. 27 — have also canceled in-person meetings as a precaution.
All of the Vikings’ tests from Sept. 28 and 29 came back negative. They are scheduled to play the Houston Texans on Oct. 4.
The situation is the first major trial of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, as the league had yet to have a positive player test through its first three weeks of play. The NFL had previously levied $1.7 million in fines to teams and their coaches who did not adhere to mask mandates during games, but the fines are reportedly being appealed.
While leagues who returned to action amid the pandemic in full bubble environments did not have to postpone games due to positive tests, MLB had to reschedule a number of games during its shortened season after positive player and club personnel tests. Thanks to the nature of the league’s packed and travel-heavy schedule, MLB teams ended up holding a number of double-headers to make up for postponed games. The NFL’s weekly schedule should make it comparatively simple to reschedule.
In a memo sent to the league this morning, NFL Vice President Troy Vincent said that “Inconsistent adherence to health and safety protocols, such as wearing face coverings and observing physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk,” The Athletic reported.
This story will be updated.