All 32 NFL teams are gearing up for what will be anything but a regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has hit the sports world hard, and while the NFL was more unaffected by the outbreak than other leagues, they will now have to deal with the same problems other sports such as baseball, basketball and hockey have during their restarts. Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders want to make sure their players understand the seriousness of this virus, and so they recently conducted an exercise that they hoped would stick with the team.
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, members of the Raiders logged onto a Zoom call last week expecting to see coach Gruden. Instead they were greeted by special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who informed the players that Gruden had tested positive for COVID-19 and was in the hospital being taken care of. Naturally, the players were taken aback before Bisaccia revealed that what he said wasn't actually true. The team wanted to illustrate to the players that anyone at any moment could contract the coronavirus, and that every player has to stay ready because the pandemic does not discriminate. Garafolo reports that the players really took the lesson to heart, and understand that it is a different world we are currently living in.
This exercise came before Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week. Pederson is the second NFL head coach to contract COVID-19, as Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints dealt with the virus in the spring. Since Pederson is asymptomatic, he can return 10 days after his positive test or five days if he tests negative twice. If Pederson does happen to show symptoms during this stretch, he must be away from team facilities for 10+ days since the symptoms first occurred and three days must pass since symptoms last occurred -- per the NFL COVID-19 protocols in place.
Gruden said last month that he wants to "crush this virus" and "beat it into the ground," according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Apparently he's taking extra measures to spread awareness among his team.