NFL warns coaches about face coverings or ‘risk’ season

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is greeted by head coach Pete Carroll on the sidelines during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The NFL reminded coaches of face covering mandates on the field following Week 1 games.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The NFL on Monday reminded team personnel on the sidelines about the COVID-19 requirements for wearing face coverings, saying such carelessness or disregard could put the season “at risk.”

There were several games Sunday in which team members other than players did not use face coverings.

Punishment for not adhering to the protocols has not been announced, but could include anything from fines to ejection from the sideline.

During the Sunday night game between Dallas and Los Angeles, Rams coach Sean McVay often was shown on camera without a face covering. He hardly was the only coach or team member with a bare face during the 13 games Sunday. Falcons coach Dan Quinn was repeatedly pictured wearing a face mask during Sunday’s loss to Seattle in Atlanta. Seahawks coach Peter Carroll was seen at various times during the TV broadcast not properly wearing a face covering. He had his nose and mouth covered when greeting Quinn before and after the game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

091320 Atlanta: Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll give each other a fist-bump after the Seahawks beat the Falcons 38-25 in the season opener Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Troy Vincent, who oversees the league’s football operations, sent a memo to the 32 clubs. He stressed that teams “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.”

After congratulating the teams for overcoming coronavirus challenges and beginning the regular season on time, Vincent strongly cautioned against undoing that work.

He referred to the game-day protocols developed by the league and the NFL Players Association that reflect the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations.

Those require all individuals with bench area access, including coaches and members of the club medical staff, to wear face coverings at all times.

“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs,” the memo said. “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.”

The “Bench Area” under the 2020 league protocols is the sideline on each side of the field and is delineated with a yellow dotted line between the 30-yard lines. Team personnel with Bench Area access must stay within the 32-yard lines, which are delineated with a white line.

“All individuals with Bench Area access, except for players, shall be required to wear masks at all times,” the rules say. "Coaches must wear either a mask, neck gaiter, and/or face shield to satisfy this obligation. Players who are not substituting into the game are strongly encouraged to wear masks on the sidelines, except for at games played in stadiums with state or local regulations that make the wearing of masks mandatory. In such cases, players on the sidelines must wear masks.

“Becoming careless or ignoring face covering and physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk,” Vincent said.

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