NFL warns teams of potential discipline for failure to properly wear masks

It’s so far, so good for pro football in a pandemic. But that can change quickly, if/when people get complacent and/or protocols aren’t followed.

On Monday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent sent a memo to all General Managers, head coaches, and athletic trainers regarding the joint NFL-NFL Players Association protocols.

“[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” Vincent writes in the memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained. “Becoming careless or ignoring face covering and physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk.”

The memo then reminds the recipients that the protocol “requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times.” (Emphasis in original.)

“Two of our stadiums are in locations in which this requirement is mandatory for all individuals, including players,” Vincent writes. “Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs. Wearing a mask does not mean using it as a chin strap or hanging it from one’s neck. The face covering must be worn as designed so that it securely fits across the wearer’s nose and mouth to prevent the transmission of the virus.”

Sunday’s games included multiple examples of coaches pulling their masks down from time to time (like Rams coach Sean McVay) and/or individuals wearing masks that didn’t completely cover their noses and mouths. The NFL has made it clear in the aftermath of the first Sunday of the regular season that deficiencies exist, that they must be remedied, and that if they aren’t there will be consequences.

The ultimate consequence to the league would be an outbreak of the virus. That’s what the league is trying to avoid. Ensuring that everyone who is required to wear a mask does so properly will go a long way toward keeping the NFL from postponing or canceling games.