The Denver Broncos, as expected, didn’t put up much of a fight against the New Orleans Saints (9-2) on Sunday. That’s because Kendall Hinton – a practice squad wide receiver – played quarterback for Denver, which was without quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles. That trio was deemed high-risk for COVID-19 after being in close contact with quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the virus last Thursday.
Hinton finished 1-of-9 for 13 yards and two interceptions in the 31-3 loss, as Denver fell to 4-7. Afterward, Broncos safety Kareem Jackson said he thought the league – by not rescheduling the game – punished the Broncos for not following COVID-19 protocols.
Former NFL player and current analyst and podcast host Ross Tucker, however, disagrees.
“I think the NFL was sticking with their protocol,” Tucker said on The DA Show. “They’re not going to move a game for competitive reasons; they’re going to move a game for health and safety reasons.”
Which is why the league moved the Ravens/Steelers game from Thanksgiving night to Tuesday night, this after several Ravens players – including Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Trace McSorley, Matt Skura, and Calais Campbell – tested positive for the virus.
“For the Broncos, it was really just Driskel who tested positive,” Tucker said. “The other guys just did a very silly thing and they went into the facility on their own and didn’t have their masks on and did something together. They were considered high-risk contacts, and so they were ineligible to play yesterday. I think the NFL did the right thing 100 percent. If they sent a message to anyone, it was to the entire NFL. Listen, if you follow the rules and if it’s not a health and safety thing, we’re going to play the games. If it’s a competitive thing, then that’s on you. Don’t have all the quarterbacks together on Tuesday without their masks on and have high-risk contacts.”
Still, with the number of COVID-19 cases spiking – both in the NFL and throughout the country – Tucker believes the league needs to be proactive.
“I think every team should get all the guys in a hotel,” he said, “and it’s just hotel, facility, hotel, facility – that’s it. Kind of like going to the NBA bubble. It’ll be tough to be away from your family for a month, but to finish the year, get all these games in, get all your money, and you’ll be able to be with your family the next nine months after that seems to me like it would be worth it because we’re getting to a really dangerous time here.”
Tucker does not think the NFL needs to operate from one city like the NBA did. But he does think action is needed.
“I think they should do it right now, and it doesn’t have to be a bubble like the NBA or the NHL did,” he said. “It just has to be that the players are in the hotel, they rent out a hotel, and there’s nobody else in the hotel other than the tier-one people. So if all you do is go facility, hotel, hotel, facility – nobody else is allowed in the hotel or facility – and you’re tested every day, you’re not going to get it. You’re not going to get it. The families don’t want to get it, either. The families don’t want to give it to their husband and maybe miss out on games. They get it. It would be a tough month, there’s no question. But that’s what Zoom and all that stuff was created for. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I think they should do it for December and the playoffs.”