The wheels are starting to come off for the Tennessee Titans. The team was the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak last week that led to the rescheduling of their Week 4 battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which forced both teams into a premature bye and the Baltimore Ravens into shuffling their schedule a bit as well. Tennessee delivered a total of 18 positive tests for the novel coronavirus over the span of six days, despite the league shutting down the Titans facility and issuing an order for all-virtual meetings. Things began to look up when the Titans showed zero positive test results on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday brought two additional positive tests to push the tally to 20 and put their Week 5 matchup with the Buffalo Bills in jeopardy.
And now, they might be the first organization to feel the full wrath of commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's front office as it relates to COVID-19 protocol, something Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is a proponent of, if violations are found. To that point, the Titans reportedly did violate the NFL order to have absolutely no physical contact with each other while the league and NFLPA oversaw cleaning of the facility and investigated any potential wrongdoings, per Titans insider Paul Kuharsky. Included in Kuharsky's report are images of a large group of adult football players working out at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn., taken by students who found the gathering odd -- additionally because it occurred while students were in class.
And while it's key to note the images don't incriminate any specific player(s), Kuharsky does identify franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill as one of the players involved. Multiple reports have already noted the NFL is looking into the possibility of this violation from the Titans, and the end result could be massive punishment by way of substantial fines and the loss of draft picks.
If the reports are true and the league finds the Titans violated a direct order to prevent/stem the spread of COVID-19, it's not simply the aforementioned hammer that could fall. The league has gone above and beyond in accommodating the Titans by rescheduling their Week 4 game and might have to do the same for Week 5, but violations could halt the NFL's goodwill and lead Goodell to issue forfeiture(s) for any games the Titans were/are unable to play due to their coronavirus outbreak.
Considering other teams and the regular season schedule itself are wildly impacted by rescheduling, forfeiture is not out of the realm of possibility, although it's reportedly not a part of the discussion at this time, per Judy Battista of NFL.com. For now, the investigation is ongoing and without resolution, but one is expected soon and, in the meantime, the Titans facility remains closed.