Vic Fangio surprised many fans on Monday when he intimated that the Denver Broncos were considering disciplining quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles for their lack of adherence to the NFL's intensive COVID-19 mask-wearing protocol. Fangio said that the Broncos would wait to see whether the NFL planned to take any disciplinary action first before deciding.
Fast forward to Wednesday and Lock and Rypien are back at practice after testing negative for the coronavirus each day in the interim. When Fangio addressed local media, he confirmed that the quarterbacks had received a fine from the Broncos.
“Yes, we fined them just following the same fine schedule that we've had for other COVID violations with the players throughout the season," Fangio said on Wednesday.
The degree to which Lock and company violated the mask-wearing protocol is debatable but there's no denying that the trio of QBs did not perfectly obey the NFL's rules. The Broncos had to pay a heavy price for it, all but forfeiting Week 12's bout with the New Orleans Saints after the NFL refused to reschedule the game to Tuesday.
Just like the kid who gets caught-on-camera stealing a piece of candy from the grocery store, only to see the judge hand down capital punishment, there's no denying the accused's guilt. It's a matter of the punishment fitting the crime.
Lock and his fellow QBs were guilty of breaking the rule, however negligible, and the Broncos paid the collective price for their folly. The fines imposed by the team ensure that each QB also receives his fair share of discipline for the infraction.
Fangio expressed his "disappointment" in Lock and company on Monday, which raised some eyebrows in Broncos Country because the head coach wasn't willing to also hold the NFL front office accountable for its part in treating the Broncos unfairly relative to the way other teams with similar COVID-19 crises had been accommodated.
Fangio has refused to comment on the NFL's handling of last week's 'sum of all fears' situation but had no problem castigating Lock and his fellow QBs. Lock doesn't question Fangio's rhetoric in the media or his handling of the situation.
“No. Anything that Coach Vic says, it's not in my opportunity or my jurisdiction to really get upset with him. He's my boss," Lock said on Wednesday. "He's the leader of this team and whatever he says goes.”
Now, it's time to move on. Lock doesn't plan to address his teammates about what happened and continue to flog this dead horse. Everybody in that locker room knows the score.
With the playoffs potentially at-risk as the pandemic worsens across the United States, the NFL used a minor transgression of its mask-wearing protocol as an opportunity to make an example out of the Broncos and scare the other 31 teams straight.
“I feel like the best thing for me to do is come out and perform today at practice," Lock said. "I could say stuff to the guys beforehand. I feel like there's been a lot said and quite honestly, to me and this team, we're ready to move on from it and ready to get to Kansas City. We can keep addressing it and keep dragging this on longer than it needs to be but that's how we're going to do it. What happened, happened on Sunday. We know what needs to happen this Sunday night and nothing that's going to help us get ready for Sunday night has to do with what happened last week. We need to come out and practice well and get our focus on beating Kansas City.”
With a trip to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, Lock has turned the page and is ready to attack this week's opponent and maybe, just maybe, help the Broncos snap their 10-game losing streak to this bitter Divisional foe.
The Broncos will keep Bortles in a QB quarantine of sorts, even though he's been cleared to return to the facility after testing negative for the virus. Bortles will be isolated from the body of the team in the event of another COVID-19 outbreak or indiscretion that could lead to another quarterback apocolypse in Denver.