Three teams in the National Football League have been fined more than $1 million because their coaches didn’t wear masks during games.
The three teams, each fined $250,000, are the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos, and the San Francisco 49ers. Their coaches, the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, the Broncos’ Vic Fangio and the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, were also each fined $100,000.
“The $1,050,000 in punishments comes a week after the league sent a memo to teams reinforcing its requirement that coaches wear coverings over their mouths and noses at all times on the sidelines during games, threatening discipline for those who don’t comply,” ESPN reported.
“We 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,” Vincent said in the memo. “Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs … Becoming careless or ignoring face covering and physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk,” Vincent said.
More fines could be on the way. In Monday night’s game, coaches Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints had masks on, but Gruden wore his like a chin strap and Payton wore his gaiter like a turtleneck.
Gruden, who has already had COVID-19, said: “I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it … I’m calling plays. I just wann’a communicate in these situations, and if I get fined, I’ll have to pay the fine, but I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the fines were “consistent” with the league’s guidance.
“You can’t let up,” Goodell told USA Today late Monday. “We’ve got to consistently do the things that have gotten us to this place and not think, ‘Okay, things have gone so well, so it’s okay now.’ It’s not. You’ve got to stay on your toes and we’ve got to continue to be disciplined.”
Ratings have been plunging for the NFL this year. On opening day, some players knelt and raised fists in protest over racial injustice while others stayed off the field for the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
In the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons, players dropped to one knee just after the opening kickoff. Minnesota Vikings players locked arms a half-hour before their game against the Green Bay Packers as “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is being called the black anthem, was played. In Washington, D.C., members of the Philadelphia Eagles stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.
At the season opener between the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Houston Texans — one of the few contests to include fans in the stadium — the crowd’s boos rained down on players as they linked arms on the field.
“After the Houston Texans remained in the locker room during the national anthem, fans booed them when they emerged from the tunnel at its conclusion. The booing continued as the two teams walked to midfield and shook hands, their interlocked arms stretched from one end zone to the other during what was supposed to be a moment of silence,” the Associated Press reported.
The ratings were not good, with Nielsen Media Research announcing the prime-time game between the Texans and the Chiefs dropped 11% in the key 18-49 demographic, even with digital views up, according to Deadline.
Related: NFL Season Begins With Player Protests As Opening Sees Low Ratings, Fan Backlash