Kemah Siverand’s hotel caper highlights the risks of pro football in a pandemic

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Kemah Siverand’s hotel caper highlights the risks of pro football in a pandemic

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USA TODAY Sports

Everyone connected in any and every way to the NFL has been saying all the right things when it comes to preparing for a season of pro football in a pandemic. The question is whether they will do the right things.

Former Seahawks rookie Kemah Siverand has failed that test in spectacular fashion by attempting to sneak a woman into the team hotel. The Seahawks swooped, dispensing harsh and immediate justice on Siverand, a guy residing in a spot on the roster that made it easier to make an example of him.

Here’s the reality: If someone on a team actually demonstrates the wildest extreme of improper pandemic behavior, others surely will be doing things not nearly as over-the-top reckless. And if/when players are living at home, who knows what they will do that may expose them to COVID-19?

That should be the league’s biggest fear at this point, the one thing that can turn Big Shield into a house of cards. At a time when coaches, executives, etc. have preached “personal responsibility,” Siverand’s actions underscore the reality that, with so many individuals under the NFL’s umbrella, there inevitably will be people who do dumb things.

Can the league withstand that? The only reliable solution may be a hardened, city-by-city bubble, with a hotel available and “voluntary” residence there by players, coaches, and essential staff all season long. (Some teams are thinking about a Tuesday-to-Sunday arrangement each week.) Any team that doesn’t attempt a hardened bubble may be raising the chances that the NFL’s bubble will burst.

Which leads back to the question of when and how the Commissioner may throw a team a lifeline if/when it lacks enough players, either generally or, as to a given position group, specifically. Signs point toward Roger Goodell being ready to decide, case by case, whether to postpone, suspend, or cancel a given game.

At some level, however, the inability of a team to field enough players becomes the team’s fault. If a team gets to the point where “next man up” exhausts 53 players on the roster and 16 more on the practice squad, shouldn’t the team bear some or all of the responsibility for that? There’s never been a consideration given to giving a team a dispensation on playing because of excessive injuries. Why provide a safe harbor in 2020 that never existed in 100 prior years of football?

That may seem harsh and in one or more cases maybe it will be reasonably viewed as unfair. But knowing that there’s no rip cord that can be pulled on a backup chute will force every team to do everything it can to ensure that the primary chute is properly packed.

The Seahawks have moved a step in that direction by cutting Kemah Siverand, and by entrusting his eventual roster spot to someone who won’t do something ridiculously stupid, reckless, and selfish.


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