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Dez Bryant’s Covid story is another nightmare for the NFL

The Ravens’ win over the Cowboys was overshadowed by Bryant’s positive Covid test minutes before the game.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.