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NFL threatens coaches who ignore mask rules on the sidelines

Comply or be dealt with

L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay was seen frequently on TV roaming the sidelines without wearing his mask during the game against the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With week 1 of the NFL season nearly in the books (two Monday night games are yet to be played), the league is threatening coaches who fail to comply with newly installed COVID protocols.

What happened?

Before the 2020-21 NFL season began, the league issued COVID protocols requiring everyone with access to each team's bench area — except players — to wear face coverings at all times. Coaches and staff are allowed to don masks, face shields, or neck gaiters.

After some personnel were seen on television not wearing masks or wearing them improperly, including L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, the league published a warning for all coaches and staff: Comply with the mask requirements or face discipline.

NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent a stern memo to every team Monday morning with a reminder that they are required to follow league edicts and state and local government regulations, NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero revealed.

Vincent began by praising teams for doing what they could to make the season possible, then quickly shifted to reprimand mode: "[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments."

"The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times," Vincent continued.

Then came the threat — though he never made clear what the consequences would be.

"Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs," he warned.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that if disregard for the mask protocol continues, "fines will ensue."

Speaking of face shields...

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid chose to wear a face shield for his team's season opener against the Houston Texans on Thursday. Though he did follow protocol during the game, his face covering was a popular point of discussion as the game wore on and his face shield continued to fog up.

One last thing…
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