Michael Burton against the Packers.

The NFL has faced major COVID-19 rescheduling this week, with the Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers game postponed until later in the season Thursday (following its initial postponement from Sunday to Monday or Tuesday) thanks to more positive tests amongst the Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs-New England Patriots game (also initially set for Sunday) postponed Saturday following positive tests from both teams (including with Patriots’ quarterback Cam Newton). And the New Orleans Saints-Detroit Lions game Sunday wound up threatened from a positive test before it was later cleared to go on following a negative retest.

This started to play out late Saturday night when Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk broke the news that a Saints’ player had tested positive for the virus, and that the team was retesting those in contact with him:

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later added that the player in question is fullback Michael Burton (seen above against Green Bay last week):

Early Sunday morning, though, a retest of Burton came back negative, and the game will proceed as normal:

Even with that game going ahead, though, there are big questions ahead for the NFL following this week’s testing results, as Florio noted:

Here’s more on that from Florio’s piece:

The outbreak in Tennessee, followed by potential outbreaks with the Patriots and Saints, show that a soft bubble was never going to work. Every night, with every team, roughly 170 players, coaches, and essential staff go home. “That’s 170 different stories,” as one source put it. “Every night.”

It was inevitable that those 170 people per team eventually would, while away from the facility, get exposed to the virus, either by going somewhere they shouldn’t have gone (e.g., the Raiders) — or simply by living with someone who was exposed to the virus at work, school, the store, etc.

That’s why a soft bubble was never going to work. And that’s why the only way to save the 2020 NFL season is to pull all teams in a hard local bubble, keeping everyone critical to the operation in a hotel so that those 170 stories won’t play out, night after night when the players, coaches, and other employees go home, potentially get exposed to the virus, and then return to work.

We’ll see if any sort of dramatic shift like that winds up happening. But this week alone has seen the Steelers-Titans game postponed indefinitely, the Chiefs-Patriots game postponed (perhaps just to Monday or Tuesday at this point), and now the Saints-Lions game threatened. It’s not surprising that this is leading to talk about firmer bubbles and possible schedule reconfigurations.

[Pro Football Talk; photo from Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.