NFL: COVID-19’s Impact on the Bills-Titans Game

One would have to be living under a rock to not recognize the scope of COVID-19’s mark on the 2020 NFL season, and while it initially affected the Tennessee Titans’ original Week 4 match-up with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it has reared its ugly head once again this week, with more Titans players testing positive.

This week, the Buffalo Bills were set to travel to Nashville to take on the Titans in what was supposed to be a battle of two AFC heavyweights, but that is not happening as planned. The game has tentatively been moved to Tuesday night, barring more positive tests coming out of the Titans team. With that, the Bills’ Thursday night game in Week 6 against the presumptive AFC favorite Kansas City Chiefs has been moved to Sunday, but will revert back to Thursday night if the Bills-Titans game cannot be played as scheduled.

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The reality of the situation is, the Bills are now the second team that has had to rearrange their schedule to accommodate the Titans and their outbreak, and here is where things get serious. The Titans have shown a clear negligence based on the reports coming out, and what seems to be a confirming tweet (albeit, trying to be sly) from wide receiver A.J. Brown.

It was more than obvious that positive tests were going to come throughout the season. For both the league and fans, it would have been extremely ignorant to think otherwise. However, with the reports of Titans players breaking protocol and organizing unauthorized workouts, something has to give here. While the Las Vegas Raiders’ players were careless in not wearing masks to a charity event, we are sitting at two positive cases, and at least one of those players was not even in attendance for said event. The Titans players made a decision to get together and work out amidst an outbreak within their team, something that is clearly careless, at minimum.

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After posting back-to-back days of no positive tests, that streak came to an end again this week, with more positive tests coming out. Whether or not those workouts contributed to it, is immaterial at this point; what the players did was wrong, and nobody can tell me the coaches and front office had no knowledge of this. There have been reports of serious penalties coming down, but it is getting harder and harder not to think forfeits need to be a part of this.

Had these positive tests not come after these workouts, I may be more inclined to think that the league should find a way to make it work. However, in the face of broken protocols, it is tough to think fines and draft pick forfeiture are enough. The Titans have completely shifted multiple teams’ schedules, forced an early bye for the Steelers, and could force another one for the Bills. Something has to give here. We are getting close to needing a two- or three-week shutdown for the league.

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Now circling back to the Bills, things have been thrown completely into flux. Just as the offense has been humming along, and Josh Allen is playing at an MVP level, they have a complete change to their schedule. Now, changes in the schedule are not to be unexpected; however, with the reports coming out of Tennessee, it gets harder to accept these changes as anything more than unnecessary.

For the teams’ sake, fans have to hope that the game can be played Sunday and they can move onto the Chiefs the following Sunday. No fan wants to miss their team playing, and perhaps few fanbases are more invested than the Bills Mafia.

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