The NFL has been inconsistent this season in terms of the enforcement of their Covid-19 guidelines, especially when it comes to punishments. Some coaches get fines for not wearing masks/removing masks during games while others do not, some teams are allowed to conduct a secret team practice while their games are being suspended and team facilities are closed with no punishments, while other teams are punished for team celebrations.
The newest victim of the NFL’s inconsistent rulings is the New Orleans Saints, who Adam Schefter reports are facing “significant discipline.” This “discipline” is being handed to the team after a video surfaced of the Saints’ postgame celebration after last week’s win over their divisional rival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In that video, players are shown in the locker room, not wearing masks, celebrating their dominant and complete team victory.
According to Adam Schefter, this punishment will consist of multiple large fines and likely the loss of at least one draft pick. The size of this punishment likely has to do with Sean Payton’s involvement with the celebration (he is seen in the videos celebrating and dancing without his mask), making this Payton’s second major violation of Covid guidelines. Payton’s first punishment of the season came after the Saints week 2 game against the Raiders for not wearing a mask on the sideline.
Many fans and analysts alike are questioning this decision by the league, with quite a few pointing to the NFL’s hypocrisy in not punishing Tom Brady as well, who was not wearing a mask in any of his post-game proceedings. Others bring up the flawed logic in punishing players who spend countless hours maskless together during the week in practice and team meetings for spending time together in celebration.
The Saints are currently the leader of the NFC South and have control of the number one playoff seed of the NFC. Despite suffering several injuries throughout the season, including a long and lingering injury to star receiver Michael Thomas, the Saints have worked hard to make something of the 2020 season.