New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson has approved a move to sequester Saints players, key staff, and administration to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19. The NBA bubble has proven the benefits of creating a bubble environment. With the Saints, they have chosen to call it sequestering.
The Saints completed the first week of COVID-19 testing with zero positive cases. Head Coach Sean Payton told Peter King that the team has agreed to rent several floors of the Loews New Orleans Hotel to sequester players before the 2020 NFL season. While this move may be a significant expenditure for the team, it was in the best interest and safety of the entire organization.
Of the roughly 180 Tier 1 & Tier 2 members of the Saints football operations staff, only two tested positive. One was a member of the strength and conditioning staff, and the other was a support staff member.
The Saints' plan is voluntary. No player or staff member will be forced to stay at the hotel. NOLA.com reports HC Sean Payton says 150 to 180 employees, and players are expected to live in the Lowes through the first week in September. The players and staff will report to the hotel on Wednesday.
While Payton admits this plan is not a bubble, it goes without mentioning that the NBA has had early success with its bubble format in Orlando.
Payton entered the season with a mindset to adjust and prepare for this unprecedented season. The Saints sequester will become another level of protection for the team in hopes to limit or control any outbreaks during Saints training camp.
“And so, at some point, call it what you want – preseason probably is a better way to describe it – we will not be in a training camp environment. And so I think it’s important for us, as an organization, to quickly adjust to what’s given to us and then prepare the best way we think and decide the best way we think to help our football club to start the beginning of the season..." said Payton.
Since the Saints hired Sean Payton as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he has established himself as one of the NFL’s most successful coaches. He’s led the Saints and Drew Brees to eight playoff appearances, six NFC South titles, and in 2009 captured the franchise’s first championship with a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.