Patrick Mahomes found himself on the Kansas City Chiefs’ injury report due to a bout of the flu, but rest assured, he was slated to suit up for the Week 8 face-off against the Denver Broncos. No COVID scare here.
This recent development brings to light the curious handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the NFL just a couple of years back. In 2021, the league, in conjunction with the Players Association, unfurled a 101-page document, an exhaustive compendium detailing the updated COVID protocols for the regular season. This extensive dossier covered everything from mask mandates to daily testing regimens, even going so far as to specify which entrance one could use based on vaccination status.
Former Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, a figure somewhat polarized by sections of the sports media for his choice to forego the COVID jab, shed light on his rather peculiar experience during an episode of The Pat McAfee Show. He recounted the daily 5 a.m. tests followed by an obligatory 30 to 40-minute sojourn in his vehicle before gaining access to the facility. While vaccinated players could congregate in the weight room, Rodgers had to make do with a workout on the sidelines. He also sported a conspicuous yellow wristband in the team sauna, which, in his words, was akin to a public declaration of being “unclean and unvaxxed.”
Fast forward to today, and we’ve come to realize that the vaccine doesn’t offer a fail-safe shield against either contracting or spreading COVID-19. Those ubiquitous masks worn in facilities and on the sidelines? Well, they weren’t quite the panacea they were touted to be. Let’s take a moment to bid adieu to the legendary Andy Reid face shield.
And who could forget the curious phase when NFL stadiums were populated with cardboard cutouts, all in the name of safeguarding our beloved grandmas from the perils of live games?
Returning to the matter at hand, regardless of vaccination status, any NFL member, player, coach, or staff, who tested positive for the virus was unceremoniously barred from team facilities. Even those who exhibited mild symptoms were promptly whisked away into isolation. This meant that asymptomatic vaccinated players were kept away from the field, despite scant evidence that they posed a risk to others. The consequence of this rigorous regimen? Skyrocketing reported COVID infections.
In 2020, a whopping 15 games were rescheduled due to positive COVID tests. The trend persisted into 2021, with the NFL juggling three more games on account of outbreaks across various team facilities.
Cut to this weekend, when Patrick Mahomes grappled with a fever, spending his Saturday tethered to an IV. Had it been a case of COVID, he would have been sidelined for the game and mandated to a 10-day quarantine. But since it was a different contagious respiratory ailment, Mahomes was free to mingle and potentially pass on the bug to others, all while NFL Network insiders applauded his fortitude in battling through what might be dubbed “a flu game.”
Ah, the enduring wisdom of science!