The NFL has fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 and stripped the team of a seventh-round pick for not wearing masks during their postgame locker room celebrations after a Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
According to ESPN, the Saints have appealed the decision and believe that other teams across the NFL have celebrated victories without wearing masks, but have instead avoided punishment.
Video of countless Saints players and head coach Sean Payton that was shared to social media went viral shortly after the team's 38–3 win over Tampa Bay. ESPN previously reported that the NFL noticed multiple players not wearing masks during the locker room celebrations, which is in violation of this year's NFL COVID-19 protocols.
The discipline is similar to what the Oakland Raiders received earlier this season when, in early November, the NFL fined the Raiders $500,000 and head coach Jon Gruden $150,000. It also stripped Oakland of a sixth-round draft pick.
"The fines are draconian," Raiders owner Mark Davis said at the time.
The Saints, like the Raiders, are repeat offenders to the league's COVID-19 protocols.
In mid-September, Payton, like Gruden, was fined $100,000 for improperly wearing face coverings in the NFL bench area.
The Patriots were also reportedly $350,000 fined on Sunday for COVID-19 protocol violations stemming from issues in October.
The Saints face the Broncos on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. ET.