The National Football League has reportedly fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 and snatched back a seventh-round draft pick because some players did not wear masks during postgame celebrations.
League sources told ESPN on Sunday that the Saints, “who were not happy about the discipline” have appealed the league’s decision. “The Saints believe other teams across the league also have celebrated victories without masks, but none has been been hit the way New Orleans has.”
“Saints players and the team itself posted celebration videos from their postgame locker room, and it immediately gained the attention of the NFL. Coach Sean Payton, linebacker Demario Davis and quarterback Jameis Winston, who made his season debut in the victory over his former team, were among those seen dancing and celebrating in the video posted to Instagram by receiver Tre’Quan Smith,” the sports network reported.
The videos were posted on social media after the Saints beat Tampa Bay 38-3 in Week 9, league sources told ESPN on Sunday, including a video posted to Instagram by receiver Smith that showed players dancing. But a source told ESPN it wasn’t the dancing, “It was actions in the video with unmasked players in the locker room after the game.”
“The team also had previous violations and was provided ample warning that further actions would result in escalated discipline,” the source said.
It’s not the first time the NFL has fined teams over the mask issue. In September, three teams were fined more than $1 million because their coaches didn’t wear masks during games.
The three teams, each fined $250,000, were the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos, and the San Francisco 49ers. Their coaches, the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, the Broncos’ Vic Fangio and the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, were also each fined $100,000.
“The $1,050,000 in punishments comes a week after the league sent a memo to teams reinforcing its requirement that coaches wear coverings over their mouths and noses at all times on the sidelines during games, threatening discipline for those who don’t comply,” ESPN reported.
“We must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in a memo. “Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs … Becoming careless or ignoring face covering and physical distancing requirements will put the 2020 season at risk.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said then that the fines were “consistent” with the league’s guidance.
“You can’t let up,” Goodell told USA Today late Monday. “We’ve got to consistently do the things that have gotten us to this place and not think, ‘Okay, things have gone so well, so it’s okay now.’ It’s not. You’ve got to stay on your toes and we’ve got to continue to be disciplined.”
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