NFL COVID-19 policy and the Dallas Cowboys: A failure to lead

Jan 5, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of a Dallas Cowboys helmet prior to the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys hosted nearly 32,000 fans for their Week 9 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at AT&T Stadium back on Nov. 8. That came at a time when North Texas was starting to see a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases during this latest waive of the pandemic in the United States.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been among those who continues to pretty much ignore the public health crisis in the United States right now. It’s not limited to him. It’s a widespread issue in the country, as evidenced by the growing nature of COVID-19 within our borders.

Top NFL medical expert Dr. Allen Stills broached this topic in a recent Q&A with reporters. He’s pretty much putting the onus on the Cowboys.

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NFL ignores public health crisis in commenting on Dallas Cowboys attendance

“These are ongoing, dynamic decisions. That’s a collective decision, not just one made by us in the central New York office,” Stills said, via Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

Way to put the onus on the Dallas Cowboys here. As we have seen throughout the first 10 weeks of the NFL season, the league office headed by Commissioner Roger Goodell has not been afraid to fine teams or even strip one certain team of a draft pick for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

Now, the NFL is acting like it’s a collective decision as it relates to teams hosting fans amid the worsening pandemic in the United States.

Dr. Stills did note that the COVID-19 outbreaks we’re seeing right now (widespread in nature) around the NFL directly correlates with the uptick in cases around the United States. “(It) reflects the continued uptick we’ve seen around the country,” he said.

Not to pretend to be a health expert here. But if the increasing volume of cases can be directly linked to community spread, why are the Cowboys hosting nearly 32,000 fans in one of the hot spots around the United States?

The state of Texas has seen 1.1 million cases of the virus with 20,157 deaths. Over the course of the past 24 hours (as of publication of this article), Texas confirmed north of 11,700 new cases. Again, why is the NFL leaving fan attendance up to the Dallas Cowboys and the local government officials in Arlington when the league has taken drastic actions against teams in the past? It really makes no sense.

The NFL needs to get a handle on the virus if it hopes to finish up the 2020 season without games being postponed and further schedule changes. We’ve already seen the league have to change said schedule on a consistent basis.

As for the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL, it’s going to be a trying next couple months. Health experts around the United States predicted months ago that we’d see an uptick of COVID-19 during the fall and winter. Like clockwork, that has come to fruition.

The NFL's response to the Dallas Cowboys tells us a story about COVID-19.
Sep 13, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wears a face mask during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cowoboys 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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The United States has seen 311,000 new cases of the virus over the past 48 hours (again, as of publication of this article). With the holidays approaching, travel around the country will increase. It’d be ignorant to assume that this won’t impact the NFL.

It now appears that there’s a disconnect between the league and the scientific reality of the situation at hand. That could impact the NFL’s ability to complete this season. The time is now for more action from the powers that be in New York City.

It’s that simple.