New Orleans Saints facing discipline again for COVID-19 violations
Published: Feb 06, 2021 at 07:11 PM
by Tom Pelissero & Ian Rapoport
TAMPA, Fla. — The New Orleans Saints are again facing discipline for violations of the NFL’s policies on COVID-19 that may have contributed to one of their star players becoming infected, and the punishment is likely to be the biggest yet for their third offense, sources say.
Running back Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the team’s Week 17 game after an interaction in the facility with a person not employed by the club who turned out to be positive — a violation captured on surveillance video obtained by the NFL, per sources.
Several other Saints running backs also missed the Week 17 game because they were deemed high-risk close contacts, and Kamara was only able to return for the wild-card round because of a favorable scheduling decision.
The Saints previously were fined $250,000 and coach Sean Payton $100,000 for failing to properly wear face coverings in Week 2. The NFL also fined the team $500,000 and took away a seventh-round pick for a maskless celebration following its Week 9 win.
While the discipline in this case has not yet been finalized — and could be reduced if the Saints issue fines internally for violators — it may end up including multiple and/or higher draft picks and an even larger fine.
The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan reports Alvin Kamara “refused to wear the contract tracing device issued by the NFL and mandated for all players and coaches.”
Per Duncan, it was “an internal issue all season.” It meant the league had no way to trace Kamara’s close contacts when he tested positive for COVID-19 in Week 17. Already fined nearly $1 million for various COVID violations this season, the Saints are under yet another investigation. This one could come with heavy discipline, including the loss of a legit draft
Protect the shield. Seriously, this is the kind of thing that could have really blown up in the Saints and NFL’s face. It did hurt the Saints for one game…but the risk to the league deserves a stiff punishment.