There's Every Reason to Believe the NFL Season Will Happen in 2020, Despite COVID False Positives Snafu

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) and inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58), tackle Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

For a millisecond there, the consensus was starting to move in the direction of “the 2020 NFL season isn’t going to happen.” Even with a deal in place between owners and players on how games would be played safely in the era of the Wuhan coronavirus, stories kept cropping up about outbreaks of the virus in the the locker rooms of other, professional team sports.

Despite that shadow of uncertainty, as my colleague Brandon Morse wrote earlier in August, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones chose to treat its fans and players like adults in announcing the team would welcome fans to their stadium for live games this season. And there’s news today that another team, the Miami Dolphins, will follow suit, letting up to 13,000 fans watch in person, starting with the team’s home opener the second week of the season.

According to NBC Sports’ “Pro Football Talk” blog, here are a few of the details:

Fans will be seated with social distancing in mind and required to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking, the team said. Hard Rock Stadium will also have touchless entry and more entrances and exits to reduce crowding. Fans will still have to go through metal detectors, but the team said it will average one metal detector for every 104 fans, compared to one metal detector for every 394 fans in 2019.

In what now looks like a red flag, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford received a false positive, COVID-19 test result in early August, which RedState’s Thomas LaDuke discussed on his radio show, “Bourbon on the Rocks.”

Now, there are reports that one of the five labs that handles the NFL’s tests reported many more false positives on Saturday.

The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire:

The NFL had 77 positive COVID-19 tests from 11 teams re-examined by a New Jersey lab after false positives, and all those tests came back negative.

The league asked the New Jersey lab BioReference to investigate the results, and those 77 tests are being re-tested once more to make sure they were false positives.

Among teams reporting false positives, the Minnesota Vikings said they had 12, the New York Jets 10 and the Chicago Bears nine.

The story continued with more details on the testing, including the protocol for the players who tested positive to return to their teams;

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 — even a false positive upon a retest — is required to have two more negative tests before being cleared to return.

The NFL uses BioReference for all of its COVID-19 testing, though tests are handled by labs throughout the nation to ensure teams get results quickly — hopefully within 24 hours. Heading into this weekend, there had been four confirmed positive tests for players who were at training camps.

But as a Houston Chronicle sports writer reported, the Texans’ coach and GM, Bill O’Brien pointed to which “test” really matters to NFL fans, in a reported comment Monday morning.

He said, “The regular season is going to be the real test.”