The Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup won’t be played this week. It is the first game postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Thursday that the NFL is rescheduling the matchup for later in the season after an additional Titans player and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 during Wednesday’s round of testing, per a source informed of the decision.
The league confirmed the plan to push the game following the outbreak in Tennessee.
“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the NFL said in a statement. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”
The NFL said Wednesday it’d hoped to play the game this week, possibly pushing it to Monday or Tuesday. The new positive tests, however, led to the league taking an abundance of caution and postponing it to a later date.
The additional positive tests bring the total to five players and six personnel in Tennessee, in addition to the coach who tested positive late last week.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel made the point Wednesday that because it’s a pandemic it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault for testing positive. While the team has the right to fine players if they violate COVID-19 protocols, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported no fines are coming at this point, an indication that the Titans believe none of their members violated protocol.
The latest positive COVID-19 tests came following the Titans game against the Minnesota Vikings. Both the Vikings and Titans facilities shut down this week. Minnesota plans to return to the building Thursday ahead of its Week 4 matchup with the Texans.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are not immediately turning this into a bye week, as they will practice Thursday, NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported.
The postponement underscores the tenuous nature of playing sports during a pandemic. The NFL and NFLPA put in place strict protocols to help keep players and staff as healthy as possible, but as we’ve seen, once the virus begins to spread, it’s difficult to contain.
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