The Titans-Steelers game originally scheduled for Sunday, then postponed to either Monday or Tuesday, has now been postponed until later this season because of additional positive COVID-19 cases in the Titans’ organization. It is the first NFL game postponed because of the coronavirus.
"The Pittsburgh-Tennessee game scheduled for Week 4 will be rescheduled to later this season after one additional Titans player and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19 today," the NFL said in a statement Thursday morning. "An announcement of the new game date will be made shortly."
A total of 12 members of the Titans’ organization — six players and six other personnel — have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week. The Titans beat the Vikings, 31-30, in Minnesota on Sunday, and nine additional positive test results were announced Tuesday.
No Vikings players have tested positive, and the team expected to reopen its practice facility Thursday.
The Vikings face the Texans on Sunday in Houston, and that game remains on as scheduled.
The Titans’ facility was initially closed until at least Saturday, with the team conducting business on a virtual basis until the NFL and NFL Players Association sign off on reopening the facility. It is now uncertain when that will happen.
"The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel," the league statement said. "The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice."
Titans coach Mike Vrabel called it "a very unfortunate" situation in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. But he added, "Nobody’s to blame. We’re in a pandemic. Unfortunately, things happen. [Titans general manager] Jon [Robinson] and I feel comfortable that since receiving the [COVID-19] protocols in August, we’ve followed those by the letter and that we were conscious of everything that we did."
The NFL also introduced enhanced protocols for teams that may be experiencing an outbreak or have had exposure to a club with an active outbreak. These include daily testing of all players and essential personnel before they enter the facility, with everyone required to test negative before being allowed inside. All players and coaches must wear face coverings at all times, even in practice. All meetings must be virtual and team facilities will undergo daily deep cleanings.
"There is one simple rule to remember," according to a memo, a copy of which was obtained by Newsday, that was sent to all teams Thursday afternoon. "Act as if every person you come in contact with has a COVID infection and take appropriate precautions."