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NFL requiring Denver to play a game tomorrow without a quarterback


How 2020 is this?

In the on-field scenario many in the league feared the most with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Denver Broncos plan to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday with no available quarterbacks for the game.

The Broncos’ three eligible quarterbacks — Drew LockBrett Rypien and Blake Bortles — were each deemed to be high-risk COVID-19 close contacts and none of the three can be in uniform for Sunday’s game, the team announced on Saturday night.ADVERTISEMENT

Denver’s statement didn’t say who the players came in contact with but sources told ESPN it was quarterback Jeff Driskel. Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and was moved to the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list later that day.

The Broncos will not be forfeiting Sunday’s game, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Lock, Rypien and Bortles, who is on the practice squad, were pulled off the field early in Saturday’s practice and told to isolate at home after contact-tracing concerns had arisen, sources told ESPN. The three were discovered to have not worn masks at one point during contact with Driskel, team sources told ESPN, but it was unclear if that occurred during practice or a meeting.

The team’s statement on Saturday said Lock, Rypien and Bortles aren’t experiencing any symptoms.

“All three have consistently tested negative for COVID-19 via both daily PCR testing and additional POC testing administered as a precaution,” the Broncos said.

Lock, Rypien, Bortles and Driskel are usually closest to each other when the players stretch to open practice each day — they are all next to each other in the front row at that time — and the Broncos have conducted some socially distant position-group meetings at their facility.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio has previously said running back Royce Freeman is the team’s emergency quarterback.

The Broncos also have wide receiver Kendall Hinton on their practice squad. He was a quarterback during his first three seasons at Wake Forest.

Hinton got switched from QB to WR at a bad ACC program, and he hasn’t taken even a practice snap as a QB in three years. Freeman hasn’t played QB since high school. At least star rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy has the right attitude about it all:

This might actually be Denver’s best option.

I don’t understand why the NFL isn’t moving the game to Monday or Tuesday, when one of the Denver QBs might actually be eligible under the COVID eligibility rules. They’ve moved a couple of other games under less extreme circumstances. (Maybe it’s too late in the season for that).

For some reason this all brings the following incident from baseball history to mind:

In 1911, the Detroit Tigers had finished second to the Philadelphia Athletics, and feeling was high that they could go all the way in 1912. Cobb, the spark plug of the team, got off to a slow start that spring, along with the rest of the Tigers, but so did the A’s. With a record of 12-14, Cobb and his teammates were anxious to get a streak started when they arrived at the old Hilltop Park for a game with the lowly New York Highlanders.

In the stands that day was Claude Lucker, a one-handed loudmouth who had a violent hatred of Cobb. Which wasn’t unusual, because all American League parks had their Cobb haters and baiters. What was different in this case was Lucker’s unique ability to infuriate Cobb. By the second inning the Detroit outfielder was so angry that he lingered in foul territory adjacent to left field when his team went to the dugout. He presumed he would not come to bat and did not trust himself to pass the section of the stands where Lucker sat awaiting the opportunity to unleash a torrent of abuse at point-blank range.

Two innings later, Cobb sat on the Tiger bench next to Sam Crawford as one obscenity after another was hurled at him. “You going to let that bum call you names?” Crawford finally asked. Cobb replied, “I don’t know how much more I can take.” When the Tigers were put out for the inning, Cobb started toward his position, and at that moment, Lucker outdid himself. Cobb suddenly whirled around and charged the stands. In an instant he had vaulted the railing and found his target. Sportswriters of the period had a field day describing what happened next. “Everything was very pleasant…until Ty Cobb johnnykilbaned a spectator right on the place where he talks, started the claret, and stopped the flow of profane and vulgar words,” the Times writer noted. “Cobb led with a left jab and countered with a right kick to Mr. Spectator’s left Weisbach, which made his peeper look as if someone had drawn a curtain over it…. Jabs bounded off the spectator’s face like a golf ball from a rock.” Lucker’s description to the police was less florid. “He struck me with his fists on the forehead over the left eye and knocked me down. Then he jumped on me and spiked me in the left leg and kicked me in the side, after which he booted me behind the left ear.”

Cobb was banished from the game by Umpire Silk O’Loughlin. Then, without hearing Cobb’s side of the incident, American League President Ban Johnson suspended him indefinitely. The highhanded treatment angered Cobb nearly as much as Lucker’s barbs. “I should at least have had the opportunity to state my case,” he said. “I feel that a great injustice has been done.”

The rest of the Tigers agreed and two days later sent a message to the league office that stated, “We, the undersigned, refuse to play in another game after today, until such action is adjusted to our satisfaction. [Cobb] was fully justified in his action, as no one could stand such personal abuse from anyone. We want him reinstated for tomorrow’s game, May 18, or there will be no game. If the players cannot have protection we must protect ourselves.”

Manager Hughie Jennings wired Detroit owner Frank Navin, saying that he was sure the players were not bluffing and asking what to do to avoid incurring the mandatory $5,000 fine for forfeiting a game. The next day it was clear Jennings’ question had not been academic; when the team heard that Cobb’s suspension was still in effect, the players changed out of their uniforms and left the Philadelphia park.

Navin ordered Jennings to get some sort of team together, which sent Hughie racing to the local sandlots. Some students from nearby St. Joseph’s College were recruited, including a pitcher named Al Travers whose sole asset, by his own admission, was a roundhouse curve. “Any ballplayer who could stop a grapefruit from rolling uphill or hit a bull in the pants with a bass fiddle was given a chance,” said Arthur (Bugs) Baer, another of the stand-ins.

About 20,000 Philadelphians were in Shibe Park to see a reinstated Cobb or a collection of misfits take on the Athletics’ Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker and Herb Pennock. Jennings had strengthened his sandlot lineup with a couple of Detroit scouts, Joe Sugden, whose last game in the major leagues had been in 1905, and Deacon McGuire, who had been retired for two years.

Not surprisingly, Mack had his team play with as much vigor as if they were facing the real Tigers. At the end of four innings the score was 6-0 in favor of the A’s. At this point it became plain that Travers could not field. One bunt base-hit after another trickled down the third-and first-base lines until the Athletics had scored eight more runs.

Meanwhile, the fans were having a joyous time watching the team of stand-ins try to get Philadelphia out. The third baseman on the pickup club was struck in the mouth by a ground ball and lost two of his teeth. “This isn’t baseball,” he said, “this is war.” One outfielder, Jack Leinhouser, had a fly ball land on his head. Nevertheless, he remained in the game. “I played all nine innings,” he recalled, “and did nothing but chase balls all over the place. Jennings finally came out and told me to forget about trying to catch them on the fly. ‘Just play them off the walls,’ he told me.”

After one hour and 45 minutes and nine “Tiger” errors, the game was over. Travers had pitched a full eight innings, yielded 25 hits and seven bases on balls and had struck out a batter. The game, a 24-2 victory for the Athletics, counted in the standings.

That was enough for an exasperated Navin, who wanted to cancel the remaining games until the strike could be settled. But he never had to. Perhaps fearing that Johnson would fine his teammates, Cobb decided he had played the role of martyr long enough. “Forget about me and go back to work,” he told them. “You’ve made our point…. I don’t want you paying any more fines. Johnson will lift my suspension soon.” After the players returned to the field, Johnson did fine them—$100 each, except for Cobb, who was assessed $50 and given a 10-day suspension.

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