TAMPA, Fla. — Despite having two players diagnosed with the coronavirus and an assistant coach test positive last week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers players are continuing to hold group workouts at a local high school.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Tom Brady and several teammates were at Berkeley Prep, working out on Tuesday morning, despite the NFL Players Association advising against such workouts.
The NFLPA’s medical director, Dr. Thom Mayer, said Saturday that players should not “be engaged in practicing together in private workouts.”
“Please be advised that it is our consensus medical opinion that in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases in certain states that no players should be engaged in practicing together in private workouts,” Mayer said. “Our goal is to have all players and your families as healthy as possible in the coming months.
“We are working on the best mitigation procedures at team facilities for both training camps and the upcoming season, and believe that this is in the best interest of all players that we advise against any voluntary joint practices before training camp commences.”
The league office has been made aware of the workouts, as has the NFLPA and the Buccaneers, who officially reopened their team facilities on June 10. Bucs coaches returned to the facilities June 15, but players still are not permitted to enter unless they are receiving medical treatment.
“Everyone associated with the NFL should follow the recommendations and guidelines of state and local authorities and medical experts, including the NFLPA,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN. “The league is working with the NFLPA to conclude the remaining protocols and finalize arrangements for the safe opening of training camps next month.”
Infections in the state of Florida and in the Tampa Bay region are on the rise. The Hillsborough County government released a public service announcement on social media Saturday featuring Bucs coach Bruce Arians encouraging residents to take precautions, just as the state eclipsed 100,000 infections, with a record one-day surge of 4,000 new cases.
“During these difficult times, it is important that we all show we care about our community’s health,” Arians said in the video. “You could spread COVID-19 without knowing it. Wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance from each other, stay strong and go Bucs.”
Since Florida’s reopening, younger people make up a significantly larger portion of new infections. The average age of infections is now 37 in Hillsborough County.
The Bucs aren’t the only team to conduct group workouts this offseason after OTAs and minicamps were canceled due to the pandemic, nor are they the only team to have been impacted by the virus, which has infected over 9 million people worldwide and killed 476,376 as of Tuesday morning, with the U.S. reaching over 2.4 million infections and 122,877 deaths.
A San Francisco 49ers player who was working out with teammates in Nashville, Tennessee, tested positive for the virus. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Denver Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson have both tested positive recently.
In March, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton tested positive for the virus. Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller tested positive for the virus in April and told the team’s website, “it’s super serious. … I know if I can get it, then I know that anybody can get it. I want people to really take it seriously.”