NFL teams, 3 coaches fined over $1 million over masks

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The NFL has fined teams and head coaches over $1 million over their failure to wear protective face masks during games on Sunday.

Following a memo last week with a strong reminder about wearing face coverings during games, three head coaches and teams were hit with hefty fines totaling $1.05 million, sending a clear message about how seriously the coronavirus guidelines are being taken by the league, CBS Sports reported.

Denver’s Vic Fangio, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan were each hit with $100,000 fines, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter who also noted that the Seahawks, Broncos and 49ers were each fined $250,000.

The penalties came following the first Sunday game of the 2020 season, after a failure to comply with the league’s requirements that coaches on the sidelines must wear face masks that cover their nose and mouth to combat the spread of COVID-19. The players themselves are not required to wear face coverings during the games but they, like coaches, are reportedly subject to daily COVID-19 tests.

Last week, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, reminded all 32 teams in a memo about the safety protocols. The memo warned of consequences for any non-player in the “bench area” without a face mask and that coaches could face discipline for not adhering to the rules.

“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,” the memo read.

“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 asserted.

Rams coach Sean McVay was not fined on Monday but he had noted last week that he had heard from the league and assumed that Vincent’s memo “was directed at me.”

“I’ve got to do a better job about that,” McVay said about wearing a face-covering during games. “So moving forward there will be a conscious effort to do that.”

Given the strong directive in last week’s league memo and the severity of the fines issued for Sunday’s non-compliance, it seems more fines could be on the horizon following Monday’s game in Las Vegas and violations by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick as well as Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints.

“Gruden wore his face mask like a chin strap and Payton wore his gaiter like a turtleneck,” ESPN reported.

“I’m doing my best,” Gruden said following the Raiders’ win over the Saints on Monday.

“I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it … I’m calling plays. I just wanna 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,” Gruden told reporters in the post-game interview.

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Frieda Powers

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