The NFL fined five head coaches and their teams a total of $1.75 million this week over their failure to wear coronavirus-protective face masks during Week 2 games.
Both the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan and the Raiders’ Jon Gruden were among the group caught with bare faces on the sidelines of their games.
The league announced coaches will be fined $100,000 each and their teams will be fined $250,000 each.
An NFL spokesperson said that money will indeed come out of the coaches’ pockets (even if their teams may try to cover the cost). But where the money from the coaches and the teams will end up is not clear yet.
The spokesperson reached by this news organization said the league is still finalizing where the money collected from these massive face-mask fines will go.
The league’s website says about $4 million in player fines go yearly to help former players in need via the NFL Foundation (remember, the average NFL career is just over three years).
While the NFL has maintained its large-scale daily coronavirus testing program is not taking tests away from the general public, the optics are still tricky. Non-essential workers — many of whom are millionaires — being tested six days a week so billionaire team owners can continue making TV money. Even if the organizations support many more jobs than just the players, coaches and front offices, those are the most visible employees.
The NFL would be wise to use this extra cash to work on those optics — chip in to raise it to a round number ($2 million? $5 million?) and send that money to organizations that support testing and care in communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
Some have asked why coaches must wear masks if players and coaches are all tested nearly daily.
Beyond an extra layer of protection against a catastrophic outbreak, part of the NFL’s calculation must be related to showing it is trying to do this responsibly — even without a bubble. Such a donation would support the company line that the league does value health, even if it’s taking risks in practicing and playing to keep from financial cratering.
Reporter Jerry McDonald contributed to this story.