BY Art Thiel 08:38PM 10/23/2020

Thiel: Seahawks staying ahead of covid mayhem

With no positive tests, Seahawks so far have averted trouble. But discipline is harder to come by in college football, where Florida coach Dan Mullen wears the national dunce cap.

Brian Schottenheimer and Pete Carroll were masked up for the first day of training camp. / Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll has said a couple of times this fall that if the nation had a plan to counter  covid-19 and stuck to it as has the NFL, rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths would be much lower, and American life would be closer to normal.

While true, the contention overlooks the facts that as a single industry with huge resources, top-shelf medical practices, fast access to labs and a highly paid work force used to following orders, the NFL has a far better chance for success.

He knows it.

“There’s no question,” he said after Seahawks practice Friday before heading to Sunday’s game at Arizona (NBC, 5:20 p.m.). “We also are structured for (contact) tracing. We’re tracking everything. So yeah, we do have the benefits of that.”

While we wait for pharmaceutical science to develop a vaccine that remains months from invention and distribution, some sports have demonstrated that effective contagious-disease management is physically possible.

But the fact remains that much of America looks like college football — fewer resources, strategic differences, ever-changing plans and a resistance to truth and discipline.

A crisis-management plan needs direction, coherence and discipline, things the Trump administration has never had. Nor have numerous state governments. The consequences have been grim for all businesses, education and sports.

“This starts right from the very top,” Carroll said. “It has to be strict and tough and demanding, and you can’t allow for any of the human-nature issues: It’s a little bit hard, and it’s not the way we want it, and we like to do this, we like to do that.

“That ain’t going to cut it.”

Bu evn Carroll had to learn a lesson: He was fined $100,000 for not wearing his mask at all times on the sidelines during the season opener.

The best current sports example of the weak approach is Dan Mullen, the University of Florida coach who recommended that school and state officials lift the ban on crowd sizes so that 90,000 fans could fill “The Swamp” for the home game against LSU Oct. 17.

“I’ve been preparing for LSU,” Mullen said Oct 11. “But I’ll be honest, if you look at what we’ve been able to do, the safety precautions we have that our players have followed, that our coaches follow, our staff follows, I think we’re a model of safety of what we’ve been doing during this time period. I’m really proud of how we’ve handled everything and how safe we’ve been and all the precautions we’ve had in place during this time.”

The LSU game was never played. After his optimistic remarks, 21 Florida players and coaches tested positive for the virus. The game was postponed because the Gators didn’t have enough scholarship players who weren’t in quarantine.

Mullen’s team was ranked fourth and lost at Texas A&M, which allowed at least 24,000 fans, so it’s understandable why wanted a home crowd. That’s human nature. But Mullen, Carroll and all good coaches spend their careers working against human nature’s tendency to take the easy way.

Then Mullen announced Saturday that he tested positive.

Sometimes irony plays real mean. His state alone alone had 693 deaths from covid last week, but somehow he thought 90,000 mostly mask-less fans sitting shoulder to shoulder was a good idea.

Mullen, 48, is part of a subset of big-time coaches who have no idea that college football isn’t the biggest thing in the world. He took risks with his health and his players’ health that a lick of common sense would have stopped.

As a former college coach, Carroll, whose team returned from its bye week with no positive tests, has some sympathy for those tasked with campus management of a pandemic.

“It seems like the professional sports are doing a really good job of making sense to the guys, women’s sports too,” he said. “Everybody’s really serious about trying to take care of business. On the college scene, you can imagine the dormitories, the apartments and the traveling. it’s just more loosely controlled. It’s been really hard on them.

“What we’ve learned is you can you can bubble it. We talked about this being a bubble, even though we weren’t in the same situation as the (NBA, WNBA and NHL). It doesn’t have to be a physical bubble. It’s more of a virtual thought: How are you going to conduct your life with the choices that you make? On a campus, it’s pretty random. The variables are a lot higher. That’s why their numbers are as obvious as they are.”

Despite the best efforts, NFL  games have been postponed, but all have so far been re-scheduled. That likely won’t happen in college ball, which already has shortened its season and has less flexibility ahead of staging on time its money-making four-team playoff.

But the Power 5 conferences are operating as separate fiefdoms, because the NCAA as an organization lacks business authority over the schools. It is a trade association that has ceded the power to create a safe, unified response to covid-19.

In some ways, it mirrors the federal government response: No one who cares is in charge of the big picture.

Antonio Brown signs with Tampa Bay

That bromance lasted quick.

Before the Seahawks got serious, Tampa Bay jumped in to sign notorious Antonio Brown Thursday, one day after QB Russell Wilson talked up the wide receiver’s virtues as a potential Seahawk.

ESPN reported an agreement was reached on a one-year contract for the Miami native. He’s scheduled to have his suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy lifted Nov. 1. The earliest he could play is Nov. 8.

The Bucs have had injuries at the position, and QB Tom Brady, who was briefly a teammate a year ago when both were in New England, lobbied for Brown, just as Wilson did in Seattle.

Wilson stirred a bit of controversy with his enthusiastic endorsement of Brown, who has had a litany of misdeeds, including sexual assault charges.

“He obviously made some mistakes along the way,” Wilson said. “Nobody’s perfect. None of us are.”

Bucs coach Bruce Arians, in a 2019 ESPN podcast, said he thought Brown was “too much of a diva” to play for the Bucs.

That was before the Bucs signed free agent Brady and became a Super Bowl contender.


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  • 1coolguy

    CDC’s covid numbers the MSM will never let you see:
    15-24 – all deaths: 24,621 covid deaths: 383 non-covid deaths: 24,238
    25-34 – all deaths: 50,305 covid deaths: 1,628 non-covid deaths: 48,677
    All deaths are a shame, but for people under 34 this clearly shows death from covid is almost non-existent and if we took the same approach to deaths in general, then we should simply shut down the entire country forever.
    It’s time to get real about this and let the facts speak for themselves and keep politics out of it, as the MSM have succeeded in scaring the shxx out of the entire population.
    190,000+ of the 208,000 covid deaths in the attached CDC’s chart are over 55.
    So NFL players have a MUCH higher risk of death (+98%) from other sources.
    The person at most risk is Pete and the other older coaches.

    • jafabian

      Younger people currently have not been impacted by the virus as older people and people with underlying health conditions (isn’t that true with any disease though?) but they still can be carriers and that’s what has caused much of the transmission. The Sturgis rally has been a nightmare. According to the Washington Post the rally has had 330 known cases and one death out of 450,000 visitors as of September. However most participants traveled by bike so the trace infections make it impossible to know the true numbers as a result of the rally. Trace infections are even worse than direct infections.

      • art thiel

        I refer you to the links posted above that confirm your point about Sturgis.

    • Neal Sartain

      How many of the under 34’s gave it to the over 60’s?

      • 1coolguy

        According to the presidents’ task force, social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands prevents the spread. All people have to do is follow this, which I do and all should do. The governors and mayors, who are the politicians that have the power to ENFORCE masks, etc, have in many cases done a very poor job.
        Remember your civics class? The Governors run each state – the president has no state level power. So it is not surprising that fools like Cuomo in NY have such terrible covid numbers. Just look at Washington State – Inslee stepped in early, people are following the mask wearing and social distancing, and as a result Washington has very low covid numbers.

        • art thiel

          The governors who’ve done the worst jobs are Republicans who tremble before Trump. DeSantis and others have been in huge fights with many Dem mayors who want to keep strong restrictions.

          This isn’t a civics-class issue. It’s a leadership issue precisely BECAUSE the president has no legal authority. The president must use the power and stature of his office to persuade governors and mayors to follow the task-force recommendations you cited. But Trump has deliberately abdicated his responsibility to act on behalf of the safety for all Americans.

          • 1coolguy

            Art, puleeze – Your readers believe you, so don’t spread this MSM BS. 6 of the top 10 States have DEM governors, regarding the only stat that matters: Deaths per million population, and NY and NJ are so far ahead those governors should be arrested!
            Again, don’t let your lib, left politics blind you Art.

          • Seattle Psycho

            So, If I am reading this correctly, states with large urban centers have more deaths than states that have smaller populations and urban centers?

          • art thiel

            “The only stat that matters, deaths per million . . .” Coolguy, accepting that point betrays a massive ignorance about what’s going on in this country. Don’t believe me; ask any independent health professional.

      • Neal Sartain

        I have a tough time believing enforcement is something that is possible. United leadership and giving folks purpose would give us a better chance

        • art thiel

          Enforcement has to be attempted, but as you indicate, a stern national mandate for cooperation by all would have reduced the grim consequences we’re now seeing with a third wave in the U.S.

          • Husky73

            We’re Americans, damn it, and we don’t have to do anything that we don’t wanna do! Don’t tread on me!

      • art thiel

        Exactly. People who see few dead young people assume the risk is negligible. But they’re carriers.

        Not everyone who attended the Sturgis rally in S Dakota wa young, but as a group the attendees spread the virus like no other 2020 event.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Moreover, what Covid-19 does to you is not binary–Death or Health. There’s also the middle area, and we are still trying to figure out that one. “Not dying” is not necessarily success, to say the least.

        Given what is happening right now, let alone at various points from the beginning, I think the facts are speaking for themselves powerfully. As he has said, Trump wants to “liberate” the states. Liberation to him obviously means big gatherings, no social distancing and few masks–just look at his rallies. They set a powerful, and to some apparently compelling, example. And yet they and gatherings like them are perfect recipes for skyrocketing infection rates.

        There are indeed limits to what a President can do to tamp this thing down.
        But he’s been nowhere near those limits. And no, “shutting down China,” which he didn’t effectively do in any event, was not enough. The facts on the ground make that very obvious. This fall shows every sign of making this summer look like pattycake.

    • art thiel

      OK, then, as long as we’re playing God, let’s put the old coaches at risk. I bet they’re bound to die anyway.

      It’s hard for me to understand how people like you don’t get that death is not the only bad consequence of covid-19. Because it’s so highly contagious within a community, first responders and critical-care personnel are in perpetual jeopardy from an outbreak. The disease moves so fast that it overwhelms health-care systems, particularly in more isolated place. As I write this, Idaho is having to send patients to Portland and Seattle.

      As the disease progresses thanks to cavalier attitudes, science has learned more about long-term consequences for many patients who “recover” enough to be sent home. For many, the damage is long-lasting and perhaps permanent. These people are called “long haul” victims.

      Trump never once acknowledges these critical factors. Please don’t make the same mistake.

      • Seattle Psycho

        It truly boggles my mind how people think that since scientists didn’t get it right the very first try, they are not to be believed anymore. Even trump likes to say “In the beginning Fauci said don’t wear a mask…”. I know Biden is not the greatest candidate in the world, but voting for trump again is unbelievable. Vote third party if you hate Biden that much, I did.

        • jafabian

          Not voting for Biden is a vote for Trump.

          • Seattle Psycho

            Just as not voting for trump is a vote for Biden

          • jafabian

            Not so much. Essentially the US is 2 party political system. The US like to tout that it has political freedoms but it’s going to be decades, if at all, before we see anyone in the White House who isn’t a Democrat or Republican. The election comes down to Trump vs. Biden. If a voter goes for the Green, Libertarian or other party it helps one of those two because anything other than Dem or GOP won’t get in. IMO that helps Trump more than Biden if, as you suggested, you want Trump out of office. Much like how Ross Perot split the vote in ‘92.

          • Husky73

            There is no Republican Party anymore. It’s gone. There are the Democrats and the Trumps. Bush43 killed Saddam. Obama killed Bin Laden. Trump killed the USFL (this is a sports blog) and the Republican Party. If Ronald Reagan was alive today, he would be HORRIFIED by Trump. Reagan admired democracy and spent his entire adult life as a stalwart against Russian/Soviet influence. Trump admires autocrats and is Putin’s puppet (and Giuliani is “Putin’s useful idiot”). Trump’s wet dream is to do away with the Constitution, the Congress, the courts and elections and to be President For Life— just like those he admires in Putin, Xi and Kim. Trump is the most vile, vindictive, toxic, cheating, inept, self dealing, Constitutionally ignorant, compulsively lying and thoroughly corrupt President in the history of the nation. If Trump loses, there will hopefully be a Great Migration back to the Republican Party (led by Ben Sasse) and away from the Trump crime family and their white supremecist and QAnon dingbat, hateful enablers.

          • Husky73

            Vote for Biden. Return the Mad House back into the White House.

  • jafabian

    Coach Mullen’s response earlier in the season to the Coronavirus is the same train of thought that some, including POTUS, have: let’s just go back to how things used to be and damn the cost. Because as long as someone else gets sick then it’s okay. It’s ignorant to thinks it’s like the flu, only old people are affected and a vaccine is around the corner which will wipe out the virus in a matter of days. For Mullen the win was more important than doing the right thing. And now he’s paying the price for it. Of course he could just follow what POTUS did to gain his “immunity.” All you need is a private government helicopter, be treated at the top military hospital in the nation and bypass FDA rules for clinical trials and get pumped full of experimental drugs. Then you too can forget the recommended two week quarantine and become a walking biohazard.

    Glad that the Antonio Brown drama is done. I though Bobby Wagner’s press conference was telling in that he said that he couldn’t comment on the prospect of Brown joining the team because he didn’t know him despite Brown’s accomplishments. He just didn’t seem nearly as excited as Wilson. Once Will Dissly and Greg Owens get up to speed and Philip Dorsett and Josh Gordon return DangeRuss will get back to his MVP by a landslide form.

    • art thiel

      Mullen is latest punchline for a joke response to the virus that was never funny.

      Good that you noticed Wagner’s response. I thought the same thing. Wagner has seen the consequences of a few Seahawks divas and wants no more of it.