Dez Bryant was going through warmups about two hours before the Baltimore Ravens were set to kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night when a team official pulled him off the field. Bryant was told that both PCR tests for Covid he had taken earlier in the day had come back inconclusive, and that he would have to take a rapid point-of-care test immediately.
Bryant’s third test came back positive, and he was ruled out immediately. Despite the fact that Bryant was shown catching passes from backup quarterback Trace McSorley and greeting members of both teams before the game, the Ravens and Cowboys would play as scheduled. Baltimore came away with a 34-17 win, but the result was overshadowed by Bryant’s positive test.
Bryant alerted the world of his positive test even before the Ravens did. He tweeted the news about 30 minutes before kickoff — then he tagged the league’s official account and asked if the game would still be played:
Tell me why they pull me from warming up so I can go get tested... my shit come back positive... I tested positive for Covid WTF— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
Since I tested positive for Covid before the game do the game stop or go on? @NFL— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
Bryant never should have been on the field going through warmups. A inconclusive test earlier in the day should have been treated like a positive until it was resolved. Instead, Bryant was reportedly seen hugging people on the field without wearing a mask before the game.
If any players or coaches were deemed high-risk close contacts for their interactions with Bryant, they also would have been ruled out for the game. The CDC defines close contact as being within six feet of an individual for 15 minutes or more. The NFL and NFLPA agreement does not include ‘brief interactions’ so Bryant was the only person ineligible to be part of the game.
The Bryant saga comes just a week after the Ravens had to move back a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers multiple times following a massive outbreak throughout the organization that saw 21 players placed on the Covid-reserve list.
Bryant was baffled by his positive test. He briefly tweeted that he was going to call it quits for the rest of the season before later reneging on the statement.
The crazy thing is i have the same damn routine.... this shit do not make sense to me— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
Yea I’m going to go ahead and call it a quit for the rest of the season... I can’t deal with this— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
Bryant had waited years to get a chance to play a game against the Cowboys. He became the organization’s all-time leader in touchdown catches after being drafted by Dallas in the first round of the 2010 draft. The Cowboys would release Bryant in early 2018, and he would remain a free agent until signing with the New Orleans Saints midway through the next year. Two days after signing with the Saints, Bryant tore his Achilles. Instead of retiring, he chose to endure a painstaking rehab process to get back on the field with the goal of playing against the Cowboys.
This was more than just another game for me... It wasn’t about revenge.. I didn’t need a catch... I wanted to make a point...— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
Bryant tweeted throughout the night about his experience. He decided to drown his sorrows with wine, and retweeted fans who sent him photos of the wine they were drinking while watching he game.
I’m about to drink some wine and cope....— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
I’m not drunk yet.. I only had one glass of wine... I’m getting my business stuff together to share with you all lol— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
We are identical twins right now... https://t.co/912lCQc9w9— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2020
Bryant’s wine tweets added some humor to a sad night, but there’s nothing funny about the NFL’s response to the pandemic. Teams continue to travel city-to-city putting workers they come into contact with at risk. There have been serious outbreaks across multiple teams, with the Denver Broncos forced to play a game without any available quarterbacks. All the while, the league marches on and tries to pretend everything is fine while the pandemic continues killing people in its path. Even those who only experience mild symptoms still have to worry about the long-term effects of catching the virus.
Bryant’s story is another low point in this NFL season. Just don’t expect anything to change.