COVID-19 reached its chilling tentacles into the New York Football Giants huddle on Thursday, tapping Will Hernandez on the shoulder pad and forcing seven fellow offensive linemen and a pair of Joe Judge’s assistants into isolation.
It serves as a sobering and chilling reminder that the virus does not care if you are Daniel Jones, does not care if you are Saquon Barkley — you are fair game just as anyone else is, and what you think is an innocent dinner with friends in Manhattan can jeopardize your team and your teammates when you let your guard and your mask down.
The virus does not care if the franchise tabbed you as Eli Manning’s successor, as one of the twin faces of a reeling franchise along with Barkley, and if Hernandez testing positive and the universal masking of all Giants players at practice Thursday doesn’t hammer the point home, what in the name of Fauci will?
Jones’ progress as a quarterback has been sabotaged somewhat by a fumbling problem, but a fumble away from the facility is inexcusable and potentially much more costly.
Any team, any time, in any sport, particularly now, as the virus rages everywhere, can become a hot spot and harbor an outbreak.
So let this be a wake-up call to Daniel Jones, and to Saquon Barkley, and to everyone else for that matter.
Let this be a lesson that must not be forgotten between here and a safe and effective vaccine, whenever it arrives hopefully sometime next year.
A lesson that you thought would already have been learned after the hazards and chaos we have witnessed in Major League Baseball and in the NFL, especially by two bright young men who know better and were voted captains by their teammates.
Jones predictably scrambled away from any and all questions regarding his Say It Ain’t So faux pas last weekend that was captured on video, much to the chagrin of ownership, the front office and coaches. And his own.
Asked if he regrets the incident, Jones said: “Coach spoke about it the other day, and we have a way of handling those things, so we’re gonna handle it internally here, and our focus is on the Bucs this week and being prepared to play Monday night.”
Asked if he would like to clear anything up, Jones said: “Coach commented on it, and there’s some information, but like I said, we’re gonna handle it internally and prepare for the Bucs this week.”
Asked if he has been or expects to be disciplined, Jones said: “Like I said, we’re gonna handle it here as a team. We’ve talked to Coach, I’ve certainly talked to Coach, and dealt with it here inside, and that’s our policy there, so I don’t have much to add on that.”
Asked if he regretted not wearing a mask at an indoor bar, Jones said: “I had PPE [personal protective equipment], and certainly have to make sure I’m wearing it, but like I said, we’re not gonna comment any more on it. Coach has certainly addressed it.”
Yes, always a good idea to make sure you’re wearing your PPE.
Had Jones not been coached to toe the party line, this might have been, and should have been his answer:
“Yes, I regret putting others and maybe myself in harm’s way. It was an innocent mistake, but certainly in this environment, where protocols are expected to be followed diligently, if not religiously, it was a mistake nevertheless, and it will never happen again. As far as whether I’ve been fined, I hope you respect that we handle those matters internally.”
Above and beyond the implications for Monday night’s game against Tom Brady and the Bucs, of course, is Hernandez’s health and well-being. As well as those who came in contact with him. The game is still scheduled to be played, but rookie Shane Lemieux likely will be replacing Hernandez.
Barkley was in California for his reconstructive knee surgery, so he missed the sight of his masked teammates practicing in the rain wearing face shields. There were only four offensive linemen at practice. Post-practice meetings were done virtually.
The Giants and the NFL and its army of infection control officers have done valiant work with the relentless testing and contact tracing and ventilation and social distancing and all that. But once the players and coaches and support staff leave the facility and interact with family, friends or strangers, all bets are off. And always have been.
With cases spiking ominously as the weather turns colder and we are forced indoors, it would be negligent for the NFL not to implement a bubble for the playoffs … if not sooner.
A person as young and strong as Hernandez cannot pancake block this virus, even if he wasn’t part of the NYC excursion. Jones cannot escape the pocket and run away from this virus, even if he doesn’t stumble.
In the meantime, the Giants have their fingers crossed that no one else is at high risk for contagion.
“The amount of exposure to this was really on the minimum level,” Judge said.
This is a football team with no margin for error on the field … and off.
“It’s a year I’m gonna remember for sure,” Logan Ryan said.
Pandemics never let you forget.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article