The state’s mandate requiring athletes to wear a mask even during outdoor activities does not apply to the Eagles or the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After some confusion regarding whether Pennsylvania’s NFL teams were exempt from the rule established to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office released a statement Friday explaining why the teams would not be required to follow the new guidelines.
“Using football as an example, wearing a mask in addition to a mouth guard and a helmet would likely create a medical issue for the athlete whether the athlete is a professional or youth player even if a previous medical issue was not present,” the statement read. “For example, the CDC says that ‘wearing a mask with these types of protective equipment is not safe if it makes it hard to breathe.’ There are other sports where there are similar concerns that a mask would create a medical issue where one would otherwise not exist in an athlete. For example, it should also be obvious that wearing a mask while swimming presents an imminent health issue.
“According to Section 3, the athlete would be asked to work through alternatives that would reduce or eliminate the respiratory droplets that would impact others in proximity,” the statement continued. “If the sport, equipment, or exertion level does not allow for face covering to be worn safely, then the athlete should not wear a face covering.”
That also covers the Union, whose MLS playoff opener is Tuesday night at Subaru Park. There could be three more playoff games in Chester after that, up to the Dec. 12 championship game.
The Eagles’ next home game will be Nov. 30 against the Seattle Seahawks. Players will be required by the NFL to wear protective face shields attached to their helmets during practice to limit the risk of exposure. The league is requiring every team to follow intensive protocols for the rest of the season, effective Saturday. The Eagles had four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Friday, and at least two of those players tested positive.
“Just wearing them out at practice, it’s definitely a little different,” cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc said. “It’s protocol, and we got to follow them. If that’s going to keep us safe, then we have to do what’s going to keep us safe. ... It definitely fogs up when you’re breathing hard, obviously. It’s just weird having something right there.”
Press Taylor, the Eagles’ quarterback coach/passing game coordinator, and wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead will miss Sunday’s game at Cleveland because of coronavirus protocols.
The decision to keep the coaches separate from the team was a precautionary measure after potential exposures outside the team’s facility. The Eagles added receivers JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Deontay Burnett, defensive end Vinny Curry, and running back Corey Clement to the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week, but the coaches’ exposures were apparently unrelated.
The Eagles’ pregame injury report is the shortest it’s been in weeks. Special-teams standout Rudy Ford is the only player on the active roster who will miss Sunday’s game with an injury, although several players’ statuses were up in the air because of coronavirus precautions.
Right tackle Lane Johnson was limited in practice Friday with a neck injury but is expected to play.