The stakes are high! It's "Super Bowl or Bust," said Terron Armstead in August 2020.
Can the New Orleans Saints organization once again take the lead in creating a postseason "bubble" environment for the players, coaches, administrators, and staff if they go deeper in the NFL playoffs? Will the NFL veto the idea, again?
The NFL and NFLPA are not proactive against the rise of COVID-19 cases and not protecting their most precious resource, the teams! Playoff teams with star players, coaches, and executives have tested positive over the past month. In New Orleans, the list should be a significant concern considering the team's push to land its second Lombardi Trophy.
SAINTS' RECENT LIST OF COVID-19 CASES OR CONTACT TRACING
- EVP/GM Mickey Loomis
- RB Alvin Kamara
- RB Latavius Murray (CT)
- RB Dwayne Washington (CT)
- FB Michael Burton (CT)
- Running Backs Coach Joel Thomas (CT)
- S D.J. Swearinger
- DB Chauncey Garnder-Johnson
- DB Keith Washington (practice squad)
Why is there a wait in New Orleans? Ask the NFL.
The city and state have reported a significant rise in new infections from the novel coronavirus, yet the team and organization have not taken precautions to protect their assets. During the summer, head coach Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and owner Gayle Benson did not take a cavalier approach to the matter. They gave the players an option to be house at the Loews New Orleans Hotel for a major portion of training camp. The plan significantly reduced the number of cases inside the New Orleans Saints organization.
When asked on Monday about the probability of the Saints creating a mini-bubble for the playoffs, Coach Payton remarked, "I am not sure. It is something that obviously, number one is optional, relative to the union and management council. So we're just trying to focus on this game and players being smart. Everyone, not just players, coaches, front office, (making) good decisions relative to the size of the groups and people that are around."
"The NFL informed league clubs on Tuesday night that teams can not require players and staff members to stay at a hotel during the playoffs other than the night prior to a game in a memo obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero." The NFL.com article continued, "This decision is based upon an analysis of the frequency of positive cases in the league compared to the risk of significant spread among players and staff gathered for an extensive period of time at one hotel," the memo reads."
However, that was then, this is now. Today, there has been a dramatic rise in COVID-19 new infections across the United States. The NFL may have hastily picked-up the COVID-19 flag on this play.
- From Dec. 27 to Jan. 2, there were 34 new confirmed positive tests among players and 36 new confirmed positives among other personnel.
- During Monitoring Testing from Aug. 1 – Jan 2, 256 players and 432 other personnel were confirmed positive cases.
STAKES ARE HIGH
The stakes are high for New Orleans to go and win another Super Bowl this season. Drew Brees turns 42 in a few days and his return is not guaranteed.
In August, Coach Payton encouraged the NFL to consider playoff franchises to form "bubble-like" environments with the league's executives.
Today, the Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and two staff members, and two players tested COVID-19 positive and will be out of their playoff game at Pittsburgh on Sunday evening. The organization's loss of its head coach is a tremendous blow.
In the playoffs, you win, you see another day. You lose, you go home to fish with Charles Barkley.
NFL fans, sponsors, and media outlets are heavily invested and interested in having the best representation of the playoff teams available per game. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners have always protected the financial part of the league. It's puzzling they have not considered "bubbling" all playoff teams for the 2021 Playoffs.
The hope is for the New Orleans Saints organization, who have been pioneers in fighting COVID-19 with a proactive standpoint, will once again decide to champion the cause for its players, coaches, administrators, and staff going deeper into the playoffs.