Roger Goodell Talks Titans Investigation, Potential Week 18 After COVID Outbreak

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2020 file photo NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference in Miami. The NFL has set protocols for reopening team facilities and has told the 32 teams to have them in place by May 15. In a memo sent by Goodell and obtained Wednesday, May 6, 2020 by The Associated Press, several phases of the protocols were laid out. The first phase would involve a limited number of non-player personnel, initially 50 percent of the non-player employees (up to a total of 75) on any single day, being approved to be at the facility. But state or local regulations could require a lower number. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, file)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The NFL has been forced to make significant adjustments to the schedule following COVID-19 outbreaks, and Roger Goodell hasn't ruled out creating a Week 18 in order to keep the 2020 season going.

"Flexibility is going to be critical," the NFL commissioner said Tuesday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Last week's postponement of the New England Patriots game against the Denver Broncos caused several more games to be moved, while the teams involved will lose their byes later in the season.

The Tennessee Titans have had the worst outbreak so far, with 24 people reportedly testing positive for COVID-19. That led to the postponement of their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the team is on track to play the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday after multiple days of negative tests.

Still, Goodell noted the teams should be diligent in following the coronavirus protocols.

"We cannot grow complacent—not the players, not of the coaches, not the rest of personnel," Goodell said. "Ninety percent is not good enough in this environment."

The league and the NFLPA have been investigating the Titans to see if they followed the coronavirus protocols before the outbreak, but NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills noted the team has been "cooperative" and "forthcoming."

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Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also reported the Titans could receive a "historic" punishment for gathering outside of team facilities after they were told not to practice.

Goodell said his goal is to figure out what went wrong in order to prevent any similar situations in the future.

"This is not about discipline," the commissioner added. "This is about making sure we're keeping our personnel safe, and that's been our entire focus to date."

The NFL has already utilized some discipline to enforce its protocols, including fines for coaches who weren't properly wearing their facemasks.