The NFL's first week went off without a hitch, but the league still issued a reminder to teams on its face-mask policy following Sunday's slate of games.
NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent sent a memo to all 32 clubs Monday morning commending them on accomplishing "what many thought was impossible" in starting the season on time. The reminder, though, was an important one: Make sure you're properly covering your face at all times in accordance with league protocol.
"We must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments," Vincent wrote in the memo. "The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times.
"Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs.
"The face covering must be worn as designed so that it securely fits across the wearers nose and mouth to prevent the transmission of the virus."
While we all found enjoyment in watching Andy Reid's hat-anchored face shield fog up on Thursday night, the wearing of proper face coverings remains important. Protocols developed along the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and in a collaborative effort between the NFL and NFLPA emphasize the significance of face coverings, which medical experts have stressed might be society's best chance of combating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even if it still might look a little silly to some, this is our reality.
Coaches and sideline personnel have interpreted the protocol to fit their preferred level of comfort, but as Vincent's memo indicated Monday, not all were satisfactory. The addition of multiple network television cameras means increased scrutiny of how closely staffers -- including head coaches -- are following the rules, and it's likely to be a continuous adjustment.
Jon Gruden was one such scrutinized culprit on Sunday. The Raiders coach told reporters Monday, per ESPN, "I've got to do a better job of keeping my mask over my face. It was really hot. ... I've got to do a better job."
In the grand scheme of things, a little reminder after the first week of action doesn't hurt. We're all fortunate to have football, and we'll continue to have it as long as everyone is protecting themselves and others.