For the second straight week, the NFL has decided to postpone a Sunday game for the New England Patriots.
In Week 4, the Patriots were originally scheduled to play on Sunday, but their game against the Chiefs got moved to Monday after Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. In Week 5, the Patriots were supposed to play the Broncos on Sunday, but that game now won't be happening until Week 6 after it got postponed twice -- first to Monday, Oct. 12, then to Oct. 19 after the Patriots reported a positive COVID test on Sunday.
If you're wondering how the players are feeling about all this re-shuffling, the answer is that they're not too happy about it, at least according to Patriots safety Jason McCourty. During an interview on Saturday that took place BEFORE the Patriots found out their game against Denver was being pushed back a week, McCourty ripped both the NFL and NFLPA for showing a complete disregard for player safety.
"I think outside of here, the people that don't have to walk in our building -- whether it is the league office, whether it is the NFLPA -- they don't care," McCourty said, via ESPN.com. "For them, it is not about our best interest, or our health and safety, it is about, 'What can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good, and how can we go out there and play games?' I think what I kind of learned personally throughout this situation is it is going to be up to us as individuals in this building to just really take care of one another."
One of McCourty's biggest issues is how the NFL is handling positive tests. Since the incubation period of COVID-19 can take several days, there was no way to know if any other players were infected when the Patriots took their flight to Kansas City on Monday. Not only that, but McCourty also wasn't thrilled that the NFL was expecting the Patriots to play on Monday against Denver even though that meant New England was basically only going to be able to get one practice in before the game.
"We weren't in the building, really, at all [Saturday]," McCourty said. "So we're doing the necessary things to stay as safe as possible. But without a doubt, that's a thought -- the same way you guys are sitting there thinking about it like, 'Hey, they're getting on a plane on Monday [to go to Kansas City], well, those days don't really add up with the incubation period.' That was the same question we were asking our union before we head out there."
McCourty would like someone, even if it's the media, to question both the NFL and NFLPA about their handling of player safety this year.
"If you [the media] get a chance to talk to the NFL or the NFLPA, I'd greatly appreciate you bringing up that point and letting them know," McCourty said. "That's something we talk about, and we are dealing with it. We're moving forward and it's obviously in the back of our mind."
One person is who taking player safety seriously is Bill Belichick. After Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID on Tuesday, the Patriots coach had the team shut down its facilities for a full three days, just to be on the safe side.
"Well, we have to make the decisions and I feel like I have to make decisions on what's best for our football team," Belichick said, via quotes distributed by the team. "What's best for our football team is the health and safety of our team. That's our No. 1 priority. So, without that, we don't have a team. We have to maintain the integrity of not only our football team, but also the extended team – our families and the loved ones for every member of our team."
Basically, it sounds like McCourty would like to see the NFL and NFLPA start caring about player safety as much as his own coach.