by Teresa M. Walker —
NASHVILLE — The NFL and the NFL Players Association found instances when the Tennessee Titans failed to wear masks at all times and were “insufficiently clear” to players about not meeting or working out once the facility closed in a review given to the team Monday, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.
Those issues will be taken into consideration for any potential discipline of the Titans.
But the person familiar with the review says there was no discussion of any discipline for an individual including general manager Jon Robinson, coach Mike Vrabel or any players, and there was no discussion of punishment, including forfeitures or draft picks.
The Titans had no comment Monday when asked if the team had received the review’s findings.
The NFL and NFL Players Association have revised protocols based on what officials saw during the review of the Titans, and there are also new procedures for teams dealing with an outbreak or exposed to an outbreak to follow try to mitigate COVID-19 among the league’s teams.
“This is not about discipline,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week when asked about potential punishment for the Titans. “This is about making sure we’re keeping our personnel safe. And that’s been our entire focus.”
The NFL and its players association sent officials, including infectious disease experts, to Nashville to review how Tennessee had been following protocols during the coronavirus pandemic. The Titans’ facility was shut down Sept. 29 after eight positive tests.
The outbreak grew to as many as 24 and forced the NFL to reschedule Tennessee games with Pittsburgh from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25 and also a game with Buffalo from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13.
The review says the Titans cooperated fully with the “comprehensive” look into how the team had been following protocols. Officials found evidence that the Titans had spent significant time and resources during the offseason to prepare their facility to meet protocols agreed to by the NFL and the players association.
Since the outbreak, the Titans also added a HEPA air filtration unit for their locker room and another at the cafeteria. When the Titans stretched before practice last week, they spread across two fields rather than the usual one.
The review did find issues with two areas: mask usage and physical distancing and player workouts.
Video helped reveal instances of failure to comply with the protocol requiring masks be worn at all times inside the facility and on the practice field. Masks also slipped when people congregated in hallways near the locker room or cafeteria.
Officials also interviewed everyone inside the Tennessee franchise from executives to players and staff members. Titans players worked out Sept. 30 in groups including at a private Nashville high school.
“Messaging could’ve been better and clearer” to players to avoid working out together, the person told the AP.
(Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker.)