Steelers vs. Titans to Be Played Monday or Tuesday After COVID-19 Outbreak

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2020

Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, is shown Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans suspended in-person activities through Friday after the NFL says three Titans players and five personnel tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first COVID-19 outbreak of the NFL season in Week 4. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Week 4's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans has been postponed because of the Titans' recent COVID-19 outbreak.

The NFL announced the game is set to be played on Monday or Tuesday instead.

ESPN's Dianna Russini was the first to report the NFL is "considering all options to reschedule" the game and that Monday night was one potential option, depending on test results for the Titans. 

Three players and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in a series of results that came back Tuesday. The Titans and Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee's Week 3 opponent, both shut down operations as a result of the outbreak.

Tuesday's round of testing confirmed one more positive result for a Titans player, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero 

This is the first major test the NFL has faced during the regular season regarding COVID-19. The preseason and first three weeks of the regular season essentially went without incident, with Atlanta Falcons cornerback AJ Terrell the only player to go on the reserve/COVID-19 list over the first three weeks of the season.

It was always likely some level of outbreak would happen during the season. The NFL has around 2,000 players, to go along with hundreds of coaches and other team personnel. Even with strict protocols in place, employees are essentially allowed to go about their normal daily lives outside of football. 

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the positive tests were "not unexpected" and that the league accepted some players and personnel were likely to contract COVID-19 as the season progresses. 

How the NFL handles things going forward will be interesting because there are clear competitive advantages involved. The Titans were not allowed to hold in-person team activities until at least Saturday, whereas the Steelers were allowed to move forward with things as normal. 

"We don't have a lot of definitive answers about long term what the prognosis looks like," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters. "We've been given a mandate to prepare as if the game is going to be played and played on time. So that is our mentality. ... We'll take it day by day.

"We've talked openly throughout this process that 2020 is going to have its challenges. Gotta be light on our feet. Be ready to adjust and have a hardcore plan. We're ready to live that out. We understand the uncertainty, but we've got to have a level of professionalism and singular focus in spite of that."

The Steelers and Titans both enter this week 3-0, so the result of their game could have seeding implications for the 2020 postseason.