Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY
Published 6:43 a.m. ET Sept. 22, 2020 | Updated 9:59 a.m. ET Sept. 22, 2020
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LAS VEGAS – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has no qualms about harshly penalizing coaches who violate the NFL’s protocols mandating that they wear facemasks while roaming the sidelines.
The NFL on Monday fined three coaches – San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan, Denver’s Vic Fangio and Seattle’s Pete Carroll – a $100,000 each for disregarding the policy. Additionally, their respective teams were docked $250,000 apiece.
“It’s consistent with the message,” Goodell told USA TODAY Sports on Monday night. “You can’t let up. We’ve got to consistently do the things that have gotten us to this place and not think, ‘OK, things have gone so well, so it’s O now.’ It’s not. You’ve got to stay on your toes and we’ve got to continue to be disciplined.”
Through training camp and two weeks of the regular season, the NFL has been successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within its ranks and hasn’t experienced outbreaks with any of its 32 teams that potentially could disrupt the season. It’s a credit to strict protocols and daily testing instituted by the leagueand the NFL Players Association. According to ESPN, since the start of training camp Aug. 12 until Sept. 12, the latest date for which there is data, a total of seven players and 24 other personnel have produced positive confirmed tests.
Yet when Goodell mentioned discipline, it had a double meaning, intended or not.
The two head coaches Goodell watched during the Monday night matchup – the Las Vegas Raiders’ Jon Gruden and the New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton – were seen without face coverings. Also, Saints defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn was seen during the game without a mask.
More discipline apparently looms.
In the first game at the new home of the Raiders, Allegiant Stadium, Gruden ultimately donned a mask as the game progressed. But he but seemed resigned to the possibility of drawing an expensive reprimand from the NFL nonetheless, when asked about it by USA TODAY Sports.
“I’ve had the virus, I’m doing my best,” Gruden said during a postgame Zoom conference after the 34-24 win.
Had the virus? That hasn’t been public knowledge.
“I’m very sensitive about it, but I’m calling plays,” Gruden added, explaining the absence of the mask for extended periods. “I want to communicate these situations. I apologize, but if I get fined, I will have to pay the fine. I am sensitive about all of that and I apologize.”