clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Saints coach Sean Payton is the NFL’s first confirmed coronavirus case

New, comments

Sean Payton went public with his diagnosis to encourage everyone to take proper precaution.

Wild Card Round - Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Sean Payton is the first person associated with the NFL to confirm he’s tested positive for coronavirus. The Saints’ head coach made the news public Thursday in an announcement to ESPN.

Payton told reporter Adam Schefter he came forward with the news in hopes others would follow the government’s instructions about how to deal with the growing pandemic.

“This is not just about social distancing. It’s shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it. Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It’s not complicated to do what they’re asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.

”I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I’m lucky. Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can’t handle it. So we all need to do our part. It’s important for every one of us to do our part.”

Louisiana has been hit especially hard by the virus. Governor John Bel Edwards recently said the state “is one of the highest per capita” when it comes to positive tests. Since New Orleans in particular serves as a massive mixing bowl for public gatherings and big events, Payton thought it especially important to broadcast his diagnosis and advocate for public health initiatives.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement after the news of Payton’s condition came to light:

While Payton is the first person associated in the NFL to go public with it, he joins a growing list of high-profile figures from American professional sports to confirm they have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Several NBA players, including all-stars Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Kevin Durant, have all come forward with their results. That prompted the league to suspend its season indefinitely on March 11. Several other major postponements and cancellations soon followed, including the cancellation of all NCAA athletics and the delay of the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season.

The NFL has made some significant alterations in the face of a growing pandemic in the middle of its offseason. Franchises shut down their facilities to all but vital staffers and league officials barred players and stopped travel for scouts, executives, and potential signees. The league’s annual meeting, typically held at the end of March, was cancelled.

While the free agent period began on time and was host to a flurry of moves, players have been unable to finalize deals until they can meet with team doctors and take prerequisite physicals. Teams can also build coronavirus clauses into their upcoming contracts that would void bonuses should a player test positive.

The NFL has yet to publicly comment on Payton’s announcement or discuss any potential postponements or cancellations in its future. We’ll have updates on this story as it develops.