Bengals practice for their game against the Steelers. Photo by Michael Mitchell
By Conrad Clowers
Cincinnati Herald Contributor
Week to week you just don’t know what you will get in the NFL. The coronavirus (aka COVID-19) has made its stamp on every aspect of life and entertainment. Games have been canceled, players have not played, and coaches have not coached all because of COVID.
The one good thing about the virus is that it has shown no signs of discrimination. Every team in the NFL has been effected one way or another by the virus. The NFL has put in very strict mandates when it comes to the virus in 2020. If someone violates those mandates they are hit very hard in the wallet. Big name coaches such as John Gruden (Raiders) and Pete Carroll (Seahawks) have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for not wearing masks.
This past weekend, the Cincinnati Bengals were hit hard by the virus. It was not so much with the players, but in the coaching department. Steven Jackson (cornerback coach), Al Golden (linebacker coach), Mark Duffner (wide receiver coach) were among the coaches who did not make the trip to Pittsburg due to being on the COVID list. Winston Rose, Brian Allen, Fred Johnson and Trae Waynes are the latest players for the Bengals to be on the list. While the Bengals have had it bad, they have not been hit as hard as some other teams. Games have had to be canceled and rescheduled. Luckily for Cincy, no games thus far have had to be canceled or rescheduled.
With numbers going up in the city, state and country, restrictions are getting tighter. Cincinnati played its first game in team history in front of no fans on Sunday September 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers. A limited number of fans have been permitted at every game since. The Bengals have four games remaining at Paul Brown Stadium. It had been announced 12,000 fans would be permitted to attend the rest of the season with spacing guidelines and mask mandates. That number could be reduced or go back to zero with the recent surge in cases. With the loss to the Pittsburg Steelers Sunday, the Bengals record now stands at 2-6-1. Even before the recent surge in COVID cases, an overwhelming surge of ticket demand was simply not present for the Bengals. At Cincinnati’s last home game, only a little over 9,000 fans showed up where 12,000 are permitted.
Word has it a vaccine will be available widespread in 3-5 months. It won’t come a day too soon for the sports industry. It’s bad enough watching your team lose. That reality is nothing compared to the threat of watching a player’s life be threatened because of a serious virus.