Throughout the 2013 NFL season, opposing defenses have cleaned up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' struggling offense. Now, it seems teams are literally cleaning up after the Bucs.
According to a report from Fox 13 in Tampa Bay, a cleaning crew entered the visiting locker room after the Falcons' 31-23 victory on Sunday in an attempt to scrub any possible traces of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from the Georgia Dome.
The workers, clad in hazmat suits, were hired by the Falcons because they worried that Tampa Bay players could be carrying the very antibiotic-resistant infection. The city of Atlanta is famously the home of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kevin O'Donnell of Fox 13 sent out a picture of the hazmat crew in action:
This comes on the heels of three Buccaneers players being diagnosed with MRSA this season. Guard Carl Nicks and kicker Lawrence Tynes were diagnosed in August. Tynes has been inactive throughout 2013, while Nicks missed the entire preseason and the first two games of the regular season.
Concern grew within NFL circles when Nicks' condition recurred and cornerback Johnthan Banks was diagnosed before last week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Banks, whose condition was contained, was cleared to play by independent doctors and has not missed any time.
Nicks underwent surgery this week to finally clear his body of the staph infection. It's unclear when the All-Pro guard will return to the lineup—if at all—this season. Nicks, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract before last season, also missed the final nine games of 2012 while dealing with a toe injury.
Tynes filed a grievance against the organization when it placed him on the non-football injury list, essentially claiming his MRSA diagnosis was unrelated to the team. Although the Bucs have kept Tynes under contract, he's unable to receive benefits, accrued service time or pension payments while on the NFI list.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that's become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.
Most MRSA infections occur in people who've been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. When it occurs in these settings, it's known as health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). HA-MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.
The Buccaneers have twice cleaned their facilities as a precautionary measure, and the league even briefly considered postponing or moving Tampa Bay's game against the Philadelphia Eagles last week before Raymond James Stadium was independently cleared.
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