As the Tennessee Titans emerge from the Covid-19 outbreak that has threatened their season, general manager Jon Robinson spoke Monday about the matter that includes a league investigation, adjusted protocols and the health and safety of players, coaches, staff and their families.
The Titans will play their rescheduled game with Buffalo on Tuesday night, pending no positive tests on the morning of the game, but even 10 days after the outbreak, Robinson indicated that he cannot be certain where the outbreak originated. Robinson was asked if the Titans were guilty of not following protocols, or if the league protocols themselves had flaws that the Titans’ situation exposed, or if the team was simply unlucky to have 24 members of the organization to test positive.
“I think that’s what we’re trying to work through is where did the bug find its way in here, and I think that the feedback we provided hopefully bolstered some of the ways that it can affect the football team,” Robinson said. “We’re continually working with the league in providing as much information as possible on ways to keep this from happening to another team. I certainly don’t wish this on any other GM, what I personally have had to deal with the last 10 days and certainly what our team has had to deal with.”
Robinson reiterated what Coach Mike Vrabel has said that the club followed league protocols, and that they have been transparent during the league and Players Association’s probe into the matter. He declined to give specifics on the offsite work that players gathered for last week, but did say that the league had warned the club not to have players gather shortly after the facility was closed on Sept. 29.
We have taken this thing extremely serious. We say it all the time. The health and safety of our players, our coaches, our staff, their families, all of that is the most important thing.
We pulled those guys off the road and prepared for the first ever virtual draft.
In mid-July once the protocols were in place, our training staff, our ops staff, our equipment staff and myself, we set about to make sure that our building just didn’t meet the standards, but exceeded them. We had a few isolated cases in training camp and we followed the protocols. We tracked those cases, the close contacts and quarantined those folks. Then we were off and kind of rolling with the regular season, Denver, then Jacksonville. Prior to leaving for Minnesota, we looked back at some of our tracking data and we actually added buses for our Minnesota trip, from here to the hanger where we leave, and then upon arrival there in Minnesota to try to further distance people.
When we got back from Minnesota, that Tuesday was when the first cluster of positives started. As we got wind of that, Mike and I, we decided to shut the building down that morning. It was probably 6, 6:30 a.m. Any staff that was in the building, we got them out. We sent out a blast message to the team, telling them that we were going to shut the building down for the day and that we would be in touch. The league called shortly after with instructions about shutting the building down and how we were to move forward, which we set out to put that in place.
The league has been down. They’ve talked to us. We’ve been cooperative with the league and the PA. I’d like to thank both of those guys for working with us, for taking our feedback and trying to improve things so it doesn’t happen again.
“They’re still looking at all that. There was communication Tuesday morning and follow-up communication the following morning on Wednesday and another communication on Thursday and Friday. I’d say it’s been pretty daily over the last seven or eight days. But that initial conversation was Tuesday morning after we had already closed the building.,” Robinson said. “With the investigation and nothing final, not to be dodgy here, but I can’t really give all the details until the league and the PA make their final determination, but I would say that we were transparent with the league about everything. The league has talked to all our players and our coaches and certainly me. We’re continuing to work through and awaiting the direction here.”
The Titans have taken some measures upon themselves, moving 26 player lockers to the bubble and increasing the distance between seats and lockers from six feet to eight. They also have added air filtration systems to the locker room and the cafeteria and halted all gathering in the cafeteria as well.
Robinson admitted that players had to be reminded to wear masks in the building at all times, something that was not always the case.
“We’ve been fairly compliant I would say. To say that we were 100 percent compliant would be a false statement. There has certainly been some inconsistency there,” Robinson admitted.
As for the players’ safety, Robinson said that players and staff who tested positive have had a wide range of affects, ranging from no symptoms at all to some players having a fever, chills, achy-ness and a cough. No one has had to be hospitalized he said.
There was also a player who was intentionally held out of practice Sunday because he had come in contact with the coach who tested positive Sunday. The player has since been cleared to return.
Robinson admitted too that there are a couple of Titans coaches who likely will not be available for Tuesday’s game with the Bills.