Titans, Vikings shut down in-person activities after NFL's first Covid-19 outbreak

Three players and five staffers on the Tennessee Titans tested positive for coronavirus, forcing the Titans and Minnesota Vikings off the practice field on Tuesday.


Three players and five staffers with the Tennessee Titans tested positive for coronavirus, forcing two NFL teams off the practice field on Tuesday, the league and players union announced.

Both the Titans and Minnesota Vikings, who played host this past Sunday in Minneapolis, "will suspend in-person club activities starting today," according to the joint statement.

The Vikings said that, as of Tuesday morning, it had received no positive tests results for anyone with their club.

The Titans are next scheduled to host to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Vikings are supposed to take on the Houston Texas. Both games are set for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The statement did not make mention if those upcoming contests will be played.

"All decisions will be made with health and safety as our primary consideration," according to the union and league. "We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available."

The league's Covid-19 protocols do not spell out exactly how many players would need to test positive for a game to be postponed.

"There is no algorithm for postponing a game," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement to NBC News. "We will monitor and evaluate the situation on a day-by-day basis."

In a memo to all teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the positive tests on the Titans should be a stark reminder to follow all health rules.

“These results confirm the need to remain diligent in implementing all of our health and safety protocols to the fullest extent,” Goodell wrote. “This includes not only our testing program, but facility maintenance, wearing of PPE by players and staff, and carefully regulating behavior and contracts outside of the club facility."

The commissioner continued: "It is also critical to remind everyone in your organization — players and non-players — immediately to report any symptoms that they have, or that family members or others with whom they are in close contact have, to your club physician or Infection Control Officer.”

And as of Tuesday evening, the Steelers still expect to be playing at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

"We don’t have a lot of definitive answers long term as to what the prognosis looks like," Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters. "We have been given a mandate to prepare as if the game is going to be played, and played on time. So that is our mentality. "

The NFL has completed three weeks of games, which have been played largely inside empty stadiums.

The Titans are among the few teams that will allow a handful of spectators. While their first home game on Sept. 20 against Jacksonville was a closed-door contest, this Sunday's Steelers game — if played — will have about 7,000 people watching in person.

If the Titans-Steelers game has to be postponed, the NFL would have a viable option to reschedule. Tennessee is off on Sunday, Oct. 25, which is the same day as Steelers are set to play the Baltimore Ravens.

Both the Steelers and Ravens have bye weeks on the following Nov. 1, so the NFL could move this Sunday's Titans-Steelers game to Oct. 25 and push Pittsburgh-Baltimore to the following weekend.