Author H. L. Mencken once wrote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
Despite all indications that the National Football League would continue to test the very limits of that sentiment, the NFL has decided to postpone the New England Patriots’ Week Five game against the Denver Broncos until next Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
After having returned three straight days of negative COVID-19 test results, a member of the New England Patriots had tested positive on Sunday, prompting this decision by the NFL. According to reports by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates, the test result in question came back positive, having been administered on Saturday night. As a result, the team’s facilities at Gillette Stadium had been shut down, as of Sunday morning.
The decision to schedule this game for Sunday, October 18, has not yet been made official by the NFL. However, the league did provide the following statement, indicating that the game would be postponed:
The Denver Broncos at New England Patriots game scheduled for Monday, October 12 at 5:00 p.m. ET has been postponed. Details on a new game date and time will be announced shortly. Both teams will now have a Week 5 bye.
This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts.
The Patriots are therefore now on their bye week before hosting the Broncos next week.
Despite the Patriots having another player test positive for COVID-19 late on Saturday, and subsequently shutting down their facilities, the NFL had been planning to move forward with the game between New England and the Denver Broncos for most of Sunday morning. Those plans to play on Monday evening were seemingly in sharp and defiant contrast to their declaration to prioritize the health and safety of its players. The league was heavily criticized for deciding to ‘green light’ last Monday’s marquee matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. Originally slated for Sunday afternoon at 4:25pm at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the league moved the contest to Monday at 5pm ET. Each team had returned a positive test prior to the game. However, the NFL felt comfortable in delaying the Week Four matchup by one day. Shortly thereafter, Patriots’ defensive tackle Bill Murray, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore joined quarterback Cam Newton as having tested positive for the virus.
Earlier this week, Dr. Allan Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer, defended the league’s decision regarding the Patriots-Chiefs game, saying:
“We take that data, we look at it with our experts in infectious disease and epidemiology and make what we think is the safest decision for everyone involved.”
The uncertainty surrounding the health of both teams, combined with the fact that the Patriots had participated in only one in-person, walkthrough practice this week (on Saturday,) undoubtedly led the league to arrive at the decision to postpone Monday’s game.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC