The NFL sent a memo to all clubs advising them that the league was updating its coronavirus protocols after a number of positive tests over the weekend. Going forward, players are being urged to wear a mask while on the sideline unless they are about to enter the game. Masks will be mandatory for all players and staff in the locker room on game day and at the end of the game when both teams meet in the middle of the field.
The league said that wearing a mask could be "the difference between an individual being designated a 'High Risk Close Contact' or not." Anyone deemed a "high risk close contact" must be isolated for five days, even if they do not test positive for COVID-19.
In addition to the mask requirements, the league is expanding the amount of sideline space to make it easier for players and coaches to practice social distancing during the game.
The updated guidelines come after multiple teams had to add players to the COVID/restricted list. Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon tested positive and played 17 snaps in Sunday's game because the team did not receive the results of the test until after the game.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who played all 53 snaps for the team, also learned of his positive diagnosis after the game. Six players from the Ravens will remain in isolation, though if they do not test positive, they should be cleared to play in the Ravens' next game.
Players aren't the only ones testing positive. The Denver Broncos announced that team president John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis both have COVID-19. The team said that their cases originated outside of the team's facilities.
"Based on a review of contact tracing data with the league, we are confident these cases originated independently outside team facilities. There were minimal close contacts identified for each (no players or coaches), and those individuals have been notified."
Photo: Getty Images