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Launching into Week Five of the NFL schedule is beginning to appear the initial effects of Covid-19. Although only minor effects thus far, we have already seen two games rescheduled and the start of what is becoming known as the “Coronavirus List” toward restricting players.
A few have included New England Patriots defensive standout cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots have already lost starting quarterback Cam Newton to the virus and are uncertain of his return date. It was just learned that the Tennessee Titans have two players testing positive and one from the Las Vegas Raiders.
The test results have put the playing of this weekend’s games involving the Titans and Patriots in serious doubt after both teams already had their games this past Sunday postponed. They also kept the Titans from reopening their practice facility on Wednesday. They will await the probe by the league and the NFL Players Association into the team’s potential outbreak widening status.
As per what was successful in the NBA, the NFL is not giving serious consideration going to home market bubbles with mandatory hotel stays for players, coaches, and team staffers when they leave team facilities each day, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s thinking. They are also not currently thinking of pausing the season.
The league remains convinced that its protocols work when they are rigidly followed. The NFL has given potential consideration to adding the 18th week to the regular season to accommodate further postponed games but that is not confirmed.
Reacting to recent news, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a memo to all teams Monday. After the league had conducted a call that day with head coaches and general managers, he stressed adherence to the protocols. That any violations of the protocols necessitating schedule changes or affecting other teams could result in game forfeits or the loss of their draft picks.
Gilmore, last season’s NFL defensive player of the year, confirmed his positive test on social media, He wrote on a Twitter post, “I’m currently asymptomatic and will take this as it comes. … I have followed every protocol, yet it happened to me. Please be sure to take this seriously.
He played in Monday night’s 26-10 loss to the Chiefs and was photographed speaking with KC star quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the football field after the game.
“Obviously, I had a little lapse at the end of the game, just trying to show respect to a great football player who I hope is getting better very quickly,” Mahomes said during a video news conference Wednesday. “And I’ll try to keep away from that and try not to do it again.”
A prime example of Covid-19’s effect on the NFL lines already was slated to take place. However, because of the NFL deciding to move last Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans game to Sunday, October 25th it was negated.
In early wagering, the Titans had been installed as small favorites over the Steelers in the Week Four test of unbeaten teams. Substantial money had come in on the Steelers to move the line and make them the favorites. Pittsburgh went from being a +1 underdog to a consensus -2 favorite by last Tuesday morning before the positive tests on the Titans were reported.
Overall, it was noticeable but nothing to seriously indicate any news was leaked. As a consensus of most of the large Las Vegas sportsbook, it seemed that there was not anything concentrated to make anything suspicious, however, it was significant.
Many thought it was more of a coincidence but perhaps a blessing in disguise as something now that all bookmakers must keep a focused eye upon. In that context, we suppose along with the key injury list, except that the “coronavirus list” to be every bit as significant and important.
This latest chapter to wagering in postponing NFL games brings another important aspect to all bettors to always check the rules involving tickets they purchase. In this case it is usually customary for all bets taken on games for certain dates canceled to be refunded and not be valid for any future date played.
Never to be understated, these are quite unusual times. Covid-19 and our current pandemic seem to be writing an entire brand-new set of rules. Including those for sports and sports wagering.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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