NFL threatens action if masks are worn incorrectly on sidelines

The NFL managed a successful first week during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean anyone should relax or take it easy with the safety measures the NFL put into place. If anything, it means that everyone should be even more vigilant to make sure this trend of health and safety continues.

The NFL reminded every team of that on Monday, when executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent sent out a memo regarding the joint NFL-NFLPA safety protocols. The memo was a general reminder, but it focused on one specific point: the proper wearing of face masks on the sidelines.

Wear masks correctly or face ‘accountability measures’

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted part of the memo, which threatened “accountability measures” if masks weren’t worn properly by sideline staff at all times.

The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires 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 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.

Masks need to completely cover the nose and mouth, and there were plenty of examples of incorrect mask wearing during Sunday’s games. Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton were often seen with their masks pulled down. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was seen numerous times with his face covering completely off and serving as a neck warmer. At one point, nearly the entire sideline staff of the Miami Dolphins were wearing their face masks incorrectly.

That’s just a small sampling. Numerous coaches, assistants, and coordinators had their masks below their noses or around their necks for some portion of their Week 1 games. That’s exactly the type of incorrect mask usage that could spark a COVID-19 outbreak, which the NFL desperately wants to avoid at all costs.

In the parts of the memo that were reported by Pelissero, the “accountability measures” weren’t explained, so it’s not clear what kind of consequences there could be if teams don’t get everyone on the same mask-wearing page. But no one wants to be disciplined by the NFL for something as easily fixable as wearing your face mask wrong.

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