News broke yesterday that the Tennessee Titans had broke NFL protocol and players held a practice together following their first positive coronavirus tests last week. That decision is endangering their Week 5 matchup against the Buffalo Bills as positive tests continue to roll in even after their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed.
There is a growing sentiment around the league, according to Ed Werder, that the Titans should be penalized for their apparent recklessness by forfeiting their game vs. Buffalo. The NFL sent a memo to teams earlier this week saying out loud for the first time that teams could face forfeiture as a penalty for not following protocol, so they would be within their right to do so in the case of the Titans (even if the case can be made that it makes no sense).
But there's one rather substantial issue with that: the Bills wouldn't get paid in the case of a forfeit. Players on both teams would forfeit a game check for the week, even if only one team is forfeiting a win.
This feels like quite an oversight by the team tasked with putting together COVID protocols for the season. This incentivizes organizations to try and push through any issues to make sure everyone gets their money. Which is... not really how you want to do things if the goal is to keep everyone healthy and finish the season with no interruptions.
So while many believe a forfeit would be a just punishment for the way the Titans aggravated their outbreak and further threatened the season, the Bills might not agree. Because they, presumably, would want to get paid.
They shouldn't lose a game check because Tennessee made a mistake. That makes no sense at all. Obviously if it came down to it they'd rather miss the game than play against individuals who could spread the virus to Buffalo, but they shouldn't ever have to make that choice.
The NFL has some work to do before they can mete out fair punishments for this. Because right now, what's perceived as the fairest option isn't actually fair at all.