The Browns have a COVID-19 outbreak days before playoffs, but it might not be bad enough for the game to be postponed

The Browns have a COVID-19 outbreak days before playoffs, but it might not be bad enough for the game to be postponed
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.AP Photo/David Richard
  • The Cleveland Browns announced that five players and coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
  • Stefanski will be unable to coach the team on Sunday against the Steelers when the Browns will compete in their first playoff game in nearly two decades.
  • While several games earlier in the season were delayed due to COVID-19 outbreaks within a locker room, Sunday's game is unlikely to be moved, barring more positive tests.

Days after winning their way into the postseason for the first time in 18 years, the Cleveland Browns are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

On Tuesday, the Browns announced that head coach Kevin Stefanski and two other coaching staff members, and two players, had tested positive for COVID-19. Two days earlier, the Browns had played their regular-season finale against the Steelers without six starters due to positive tests.

As of Tuesday, the Browns had 10 players on the COVID-19 Reserve list.
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Cleveland is set to compete in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 on Sunday, but as things stand, Stefanski won't be able to be on the sidelines for the game, in keeping with NFL protocols. In the team's announcement, the Browns said that special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer will take over as acting head coach in Stefanski's absence.

While several games throughout the NFL season were pushed back due to COVID-19 outbreaks within a team, the Browns situation has not yet reached a point where a delay is likely. The earlier games were moved out of concern for a continued outbreak within a locker room.

As Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network explained, the league doesn't plan on delaying the game strictly in the name of competitive balance. Rather, the game would only be postponed if there was evidence the virus was spreading in the locker room.
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The Browns facility is currently shut down. There is enough time between now and kickoff on Sunday for anyone deemed a close contact to a player or coach who tested positive would still be able to play in the game, as long as they continue to test negative.

Should the Browns continue to have positive tests show up across the roster in the coming days and there is concern that the outbreak is still ongoing, there's a chance that Sunday's game is pushed back.But much more likely, Cleveland will have to find a way to win on Sunday while missing some of their key players and their head coach.
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