Denver (CBS4 / AP) – Quarterbacks Drew Locke, Brett Ripian and Blake Bortles were ejected from the Broncos practice field on Saturday and sent home by the NFL after high-risk close contacts to Jeff Driskell, who tested positive for the Coronavirus on Thanksgiving Day. It turns out, four Denver QBs had gathered for some film study on Tuesday, the players’ day off, “which is commendable,” coach Vic Fangio said Sunday after losing 31–3 to New Orleans.
But the four QBs did not wear their mandatory masks or maintain their social distance, something the league discovered while watching surveillance footage. No one was allowed to play against the Saints.
An hour before kickoff, Locke issued an apology, clarification and defense in a lengthy Twitter post.
“In a controlled and socially distant region, we slip our masking for a limited time. An honest mistake, but one I would make myself, “Locke wrote,” I sincerely apologize and I fully understand why these safety precautions are so important. Doing the right thing for the majority of the time is not enough. “
Fangio, whose team fell to 4-7 with Kendall Hinton as an emergency starter at QEB, said he was “disappointed at some level” that his quarterback’s actions put his team and the NFL in a difficult position.
“We trust them that they are the team leaders and the leaders of the offense and those people have made a mistake and it is disappointing,” Fangio said. “Obviously, I haven’t done a good job of selling the protocol. When they are on their own, some part of it may fall on me. I thought I would.
He said, ‘We put a lot of emphasis on it and we are really good up to this point … relative to other teams. There was a failure and it is disappointing. “
When the league informed the Broncos that their QBs had violated the COVID-19 protocol and had to quarantine, the Broncos requested league commissioner Roger Goodell to postpone their game against the Saints in a day or two.
Arguing that it was Fangio, who was fined for not wearing a mask on the sideline earlier this season, and two executives from general manager John Elway and team president Joe Ellis who were infected with the virus earlier this month.
“I think maybe it could have been moved, but at the same time, maybe the league (was) just making an example of us,” safety Karim Jackson said.
Fungio asked if the NFL’s refusal to push the game back was unreasonable, saying that was a question for Elway or Ellis.
“Extremely unfortunate,” Elway disqualified his three healthy quarterbacks after posting on Facebook.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)