Brett Duke / Associated Press
The New Orleans Saints were fined $ 500,000 and a seventh-round pick for not wearing masks in their post-game celebration after their Week 9 win over the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Saints have appealed the punishment. New Orleans is considered a repeat offender of NFL COVID-19 policies. The Las Vegas Raiders had previously been denied a sixth round pick and fined $ 500,000 for repeated policy violations.
On November 3, the NFL sent out a memo requiring players and coaches to wear masks at all times when not on the field, including in the locker room. Several New Orleans players were shown maskless during the post-game celebration of their 38-3 win over Tampa.
Without denying that players weren’t wearing masks, the Saints said other teams celebrated without covering their faces without receiving the same level of punishment. The league has criticized repeat offenders and will likely continue to do so with COVID-19 ravaging sports locker rooms.
The Week 12 game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving, was moved to Tuesday amid a Ravens outbreak. The Denver Broncos are apparently set to face the Saints on Sunday without a quarterback, as all quarterbacks on their roster were seen as close contact with Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID.
With the league office seemingly bent on moving the season forward as planned – even at the expense of competitive equilibrium – it seems likely that the penalties for COVID policy violations will only increase from there.