NFL Says It Made Safe Decision on Dez Bryant, Allowing Ravens to Play

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In a first for the NFL, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Dez Bryant was pulled off the field for a positive COVID-19 test just before Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. The game went on anyway. The Ravens won, and all seemed fine.

It was a strange situation, no doubt, but the NFL said it was the best decision.

“The process is consistent with how we have addressed a player positive, including the contact-tracing process,” NFL chief administrative officer Dawn Aponte said in a conference call with reporters. “I would say one of the complicating factors, obviously, was the timing for the club. It was past the 90-minute mark, pregame, which is the final time that the club is able to set their active roster for the game.”

Aponte admitted that, for the NFL, this was undoubtedly a first.

“That was different than what we had experienced in the past. But in terms of the scenario, certainly not something that we hadn’t previously contemplated and discussed, and as always health and safety dictates,” she said. “At the end of the day, that is how the decision is arrived, and that was how it was determined that Dez would be removed, and there were no other close contacts identified.”

Instead of playing, Bryant spent most of the night tweeting. Quarterback Lamar Jackson said the Ravens dedicated the win to Bryant “because we knew how much it meant to him.” Bryant, of course, was once a star receiver for the Cowboys.

No matter. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said it was his determination that, despite Bryant’s positive test, the game would go on. Sills also added that Bryant’s cooperation helped.

“I made the final determination that there were no high-risk close contacts to the case, so there was no need to remove anyone else,” Sills said. “I would say it was a very straight-forward review simply because there were very few contacts identified by the Kinexon data.

“I think that’s a reflection of the fact that this club has been under our intensive protocol and certainly has done a tremendous job with compliance around their facility leading up to the game yesterday. So there were simply very few contacts to be reviewed, and with the cooperation of the player involved, we did not identify any other worrisome contacts.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side,

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