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Report: NFL considering altering protocols after Matthew Stafford’s false positive ordeal

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The league is looking to prevent the Stafford situation from happening again.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions have a long history of causing change in the NFL. Whether it’s due to a horrible, rarely-used rule or the process of the catch, the Lions always seem to be on the bad end of the league’s guinea pig testing.

That tradition continued last week, as Matthew Stafford was the first NFL player publicly known to have produced a false positive test during the COVID-19 screening process. The test caused a bit of chaos in the Stafford family, as they promptly tested the entire family and went through some hardships from judgmental neighbors.

But the process also revealed what could be a tough situation in the NFL. A false positive now does little to affect the competitiveness of a team since the season has not started yet, but if that were to happen late in a game week, it could potentially mean a key player would miss a game despite not actually being sick.

It’s a tough spot for the NFL to be in, because they obviously want to take every available precaution when there’s a positive test result, even if that means quarantining a healthy player. Better to be overly safe than potentially allow an infected player to enter the building and cause an outbreak.

According to MMQB’s Albert Breer, the Stafford situation has prompted some talks between the NFL and the NFL Players Association about changing their current policy.

“According to sources, the NFL and NFLPA are discussing adjusted protocols for players who have persistently tested negative, and have a single positive, followed by more negative tests,” Breer wrote on Friday.

In Stafford’s case, he had two negative tests, followed by his false positive, then tested negative three more times, according to the team.

Whatever the solution the two sides come up with, it’ll have to err on the side of caution, because one slip up with a positive test result could have widespread consequences. Hopefully, though, they’ll come up with something that is both safe and fair to the players and their families.