The Tennessee Titans seemed destined for NFL sanctions for unauthorized and unofficial player workouts last week after the team facility was closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
PaulKuharsky.com reported Wednesday that at least two groups of players gathered on Sept. 30, a day after league officials ordered the team to halt all in-person activities and to make sure players remained distant from one another until further notice. His report included photos taken by bystanders of more than a dozen players on the football field at Montgomery Bell Academy, a local private high school, and a smaller group at Belmont University’s baseball field.
SI.com senior NFL reporter Albert Breer reported that rumors of such workouts had made their way through the league for several days. Kuharsky’s report gave credence to that talk.
One Titans player, left guard, Rodger Saffold, defended the actions.
In a memo to NFL teams Monday, commissioner Roger Goodell said “compliance is mandatory” when it comes to the health and safety protocols agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players’ Association. He added that sanctions for violations could include “additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel has maintained that the franchise has been and intends to remain compliant with all league directives.
“We have to hold each other accountable, I think, to do some sort of physical activity and be ready to go,” Vrabel said last Wednesday, the day the workouts reportedly took place. “No one instructed them to go practice or do anything of that nature. We're confident that when we are allowed back in the building that the league will give us ample time to practice.”
The Titans’ facility remains closed following two more positive tests Wednesday morning. At present there is no timetable about when the team will be able to get back to work or if Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium will take place as scheduled.
"I think I stand by our efforts as an organization, as a team, in following the protocols that were in place," Vrabel said Tuesday. "[General manager] Jon [Robinson] and I put a lot of thought into it. We're going to continue to do everything that we can to make sure that as we enter back into this building that things are safe, the players are comfortable, and that their health and well-being is at the forefront."