NFL and college football teams have had to implement myriad COVID-19 protocols amid the pandemic, and during games that means some amount of social distancing on sidelines as well as face coverings for coaches. That isn’t always easy with how often coaches need to yell instructions during games.
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach had an interesting exchange with a reporter earlier this week regarding use of face coverings, and few coaches have kept them on at all times. The masks muffle voices to some degree, and even with empty or largely empty stadiums that’s difficult for coaches.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh sounded off on the issue Wednesday.
“I don’t think there is anybody better than us, me or our staff, from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
Harbaugh added: “To think in a three-hour heated competitive environment — especially when you’re yelling, that your mask isn’t going to fall down for 5 to 10 seconds — I don’t think anybody could be held to that standard.”
Baltimore suffered a home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night football that effectively puts the Ravens two games behind early in the race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed now that the Chiefs hold the tiebreaker. So it isn’t too surprising that Harbaugh wouldn’t want to hear about his mask use after a disappointing performance.
The NFL has largely kept COVID-19 in check, although Sunday’s previously scheduled game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans has been postponed to either Monday or Tuesday after Titans players and staffers tested positive. College programs have generally had more issues, and Leach had plenty to say about mask use on his weekly Zoom call with reporters.
“Well, I tried to remember the best that I could then I found myself talking all of the time because I’m calling the plays as well,” Leach said, via 247Sports’ Robbie Faulk. “It was a constant state of talking. Between me taking it down to talk and lifting up and falling down on its own and me remembering to put it back up, I think there were a number of challenges there. With a little practice, who knows, it may be better this week.
“… See, I’ve got that face sock thing that fits right on your neck instead of over your ear. Do you ever find that pretty soon those things will start to smell bad. All of a sudden you’re going, ‘what’s that smell? What’s going on out there?’ There’s nothing going on our there, that’s your breath. What do you do when you’re talking? Do you have a trigger when to pull that thing back up because I’ve found myself too preoccupied to do it and then I notice it’s somewhere around my neck there.”