With the NFL playoffs starting this weekend, now isn’t the time you want to be hit with the COVID-19 bug. Unfortunately for the Cleveland Browns, it’s happening now.
The Browns announced on Tuesday that head coach Kevin Stefanski, two assistant coaches, and two players have tested positive for COVID-19. Stefanski will not be coaching the team’s first playoff game in 18 years when the Browns meet the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
Browns’ special team’s coordinator Mike Priefer serving as acting head coach, and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt would call plays instead.NFL rules state that anyone testing positive must be away from the team for at least 10 days. This makes coaching this weekend impossible.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said there is no change to the status of Sunday night’s game in Pittsburgh. He added the league is continuing to conduct contact tracing to identify any possible high-risk close contacts.
”If any players or personnel are identified as such, they would remain apart from the team and facilities for five days from the last exposure to a positive individual,” McCarthy said in an email. ”They would be eligible to return to the team and play in the game.”
It was already going to be a tough matchup for the Browns. Heading into Pittsburgh without your head coach will be a challenge the Browns will have no choice but to embrace.